Anyone accused of false imprisonment should seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. In some cases, false imprisonment charges may arise from a miscommunication between two or more people.
Sometimes, these charges are levied against someone who was merely trying to defend themselves against attack. In these cases, a West Palm Beach false imprisonment lawyer could help present your side of the story in court in your defense. If you have been charged with this serious crime, call a skilled criminal lawyer immediately.
What are False Imprisonment Charges?
According to Florida Code Section 787.02, someone commits false imprisonment when they either:
- Forcibly, by threat, confine, abduct, imprison, or restrain another person without lawful authority against their will
- Secretly confine, abduct, imprison, or restrains another person without lawful authority against their will
Essentially, this law means that when someone restrains another against their will, they have falsely imprisoned that person. This is a serious crime because it impedes someone’s freedom without legal authority. However, when the person accused has the legal authority to restrain or otherwise imprison another, they have not committed this crime. For example, if a police officer lawfully arrests someone, they have not committed false imprisonment. A lawyer in West Palm Beach could review someone’s false imprisonment charges and determine if their conduct was illegal.
Example of False Imprisonment
Even momentarily restraining another person unlawfully and against their will can constitute false imprisonment. This means that someone who merely grabs another person by the arm to restrain them may face charges depending on the circumstances. Some common examples of false imprisonment may include:
- Threatening someone with a weapon in order to prevent them from leaving
- Locking someone inside a room without an exit
- Physically restraining someone without legal authority to do so
- Coercing someone so they cannot leave a location
- Illegally drugging or intoxicating someone in order to prevent them from leaving
Potential Penalties of Unlawful Confinement
False imprisonment is a third-degree felony under state law. This means that someone convicted of this crime, even on a first offense, could face up to five years in prison, and up to $5,000 in fines. They could potentially face up to five years of probation as well, or instead of prison. Potential penalties increase for each subsequent conviction. The specific sentence someone could face upon conviction depends on the facts of their case. A lawyer in West Palm Beach could help someone mitigate the potential penalties for a false imprisonment charge.
False Imprisonment vs. Kidnapping
False imprisonment is a separate crime from kidnapping, though the two offenses are related. When someone commits false imprisonment with the intent to hold the other person for ransom; as a hostage; to commit a felony; to inflict bodily harm upon them, or to commit terrorism, the offense becomes kidnapping.
Under state law, kidnapping is a more serious crime than false imprisonment, and anyone convicted of kidnapping could face up to 30 years in prison. In some cases, a defense attorney in West Palm Beach can get the kidnapping charges lowered to false imprisonment or may even be able to get the charges dismissed altogether.
Speak with a West Palm Beach False Imprisonment Attorney
If you have been accused of unlawfully confining someone, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible, as the consequences can be serious. A West Palm Beach false imprisonment lawyer could review your case and determine how to best build a defense. To learn how Leifert & Leifert could help you fight your charges, schedule an initial consultation.