While the words “false imprisonment” may conjure up an image of someone wrongfully locked away in prison, the reality is vastly different. You could be arrested and charged with false imprisonment because of a domestic violence spat or even a simple bar fight. Unfortunately, the State of California punishes criminals harshly and a false imprisonment conviction could result in you serving significant time in state prison or a county jail.
False Imprisonment-The Law in California
False imprisonment is addressed in California’s Penal Code 236 PC. According to California law, it is unlawful for anyone to restrain, confine, or detain another individual against his or her will. This is known as false imprisonment and it is charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If you used violence, menace, fraud, or deceit in order to restrain or confine another person, then your false imprisonment charges will be escalated to a felony offense.
In order to convict someone of felony false imprisonment, the prosecution must prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That the victim was detained, restrained, or confined
- That this was done against the victim’s will and without his or her consent
- That the offender used violence, menace, fraud, or deceit in order to restrain the victim
- That the offender knew that he was detaining, restraining, or confining the victim
Felony false imprisonment is different from misdemeanor false imprisonment because there is an element of harm and violence involved.
For example: A group of friends is out partying one night at a local bar. The evening is going well, until Billy notices his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, Scott, leaving the bar. Billy and his friends leave the bar and find Scott outside. Billy holds Scott down while his friends take turns beating him up. Under California law, Billy could be charged with false imprisonment for his role in the crime.
Penalties for False Imprisonment in California
The penalties and consequences for false imprisonment depend largely on whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of false imprisonment in the State of California, you face the following penalties and consequences:
- Misdemeanor False Imprisonment
- Up to 1 year in county jail
- Up to $1,000 fines
- Probation of up to 3 years
- And more
- Felony False Imprisonment
- Up to 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison or county jail
- Up to $10,000 fines
- Probation of up to 3 years
- And more
If the victim was over the age of 65 or was a dependent adult at the time of the false imprisonment, then you will face enhanced penalties that include up to 4 years in prison for your crimes.
False Imprisonment Defenses
There are several defenses your San Jose criminal defense attorney can employ to have your false imprisonment charges reduced or even dismissed all together. If you detained or restrained another individual in self-defense, the victim actually consented to the confinement, or you were a victim of a false accusation, then your attorney may be able to have the false imprisonment charges dismissed. An experienced and skilled San Jose criminal defense attorney will investigate every angle of your case to determine the best legal defense to these serious criminal charges.
San Jose False Imprisonment Defense Lawyers
At Ahmed & Sukaram, our San Jose criminal defense lawyers know that innocent men and women are charged with false imprisonment every year. Unfortunately, without aggressive legal representation, these innocent men and women could face years behind bars. If you are charged with false imprisonment in San Francisco, San Jose, Palo Alto, or anywhere in the State of California, contact the dynamic legal team of Ahmed & Sukaram immediately. We are ready to fight to protect your rights and secure your freedom.