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False Imprisonment: Misdemeanor or Felony? It Depends

Okabe & Haushalter May 2, 2019 Computer Crime

False imprisonment in California is typically categorized as a misdemeanor offense. Those defendants adjusted guilty of false imprisonment face up to a year in county jail and fines of $1,000. However, the charge can be enhanced to a felony if certain conditions exist. A felony conviction of false imprisonment comes with up to three years in state prison and a fine of $10,000. Other enhancements to the charge may be added if the victim was a vulnerable individual, or if the crime was committed in the benefit of a criminal gang. If a weapon was involved, the sentence becomes steeper too.

Have you been charged with false imprisonment or other crimes? Your first step should be to contact our criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles to start strategizing your defense. Your very freedom could be on the line.

Let’s look at false imprisonment and felony enhancements of false imprisonment charges in greater detail. False imprisonment essentially means that you unlawfully deprived someone else of their personal liberty by intentionally detaining them when you did not have the right to do so. False imprison is similar to kidnapping, but the latter requires that the victim has moved a significant distance.

It is not unusual for false imprisonment accusations to be levied in a domestic violence situation when one person grabs another by the wrist and refuses to let them leave. Or perhaps a couple is riding in a car and an argument ensues; the passenger asks to be let out and the driver doesn’t let him/her out. This can be construed as false imprisonment. Confinement, restraint or detention for even a very short period can still constitute false imprisonment.

False imprisonment becomes a felony if there is violence, fraud, deceit or menace used in the detainment or restraint of the victim. Menace is considered to be the threat or implication of threat. If a firearm was used to commit the offense, then an additional 10 years may be tacked on the sentence; if the gun was fired, then 25 years can be added on. False imprisonment for the benefit of criminal gang activity comes with a sentence of 15 years to life.

Defenses for False Imprisonment

There are several potential defenses against false imprisonment that are sometimes used by defendants, depending on the facts in their case. These include the victim being there voluntary, acting in good faith to prevent the victim from harming herself or someone else, and acting in self-defense. There are also instances where the accusations are just simply false.

Your Next Steps

Being convicted of false imprisonment, as you can see, can be a very detrimental event. It can change your life in horrific ways, stripping you of your liberty and freedom for decades. If you are facing a felony false imprisonment charge, Okabe & Haushalter wants to help. Our team of Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will work diligently to formulate the best defense strategy possible based on the circumstances of your charge. Contact us now to set up your free, no-obligation case review by dialing 310-430-7799.