California Penal Code § 236 PC is the California statute that defines the crime of false imprisonment. Under this code section, false imprisonment is “the unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another.” False imprisonment may be charged when the confinement, detention, or restraint only lasts for a short time.

The commission of the crime of false imprisonment means that one person restrains, detains, or confines another without consent. The crime of false imprisonment may also be committed with or without violence or force. The crime is often committed in circumstances involving intimate partners when the crimes of domestic violence and corporal injury may occur. For example, a spouse may grab the arm of the other spouse and prevent him or her from leaving.

Violating a person’s liberty means a sustained restriction of such liberty through violence, duress, fraud, deceit, or a threat of unlawful injury under circumstances where the individual receiving the threat reasonably believes that the person making the threat has the ability to bring the threat to fruition.

Other situations that may give rise to the offense include the driver of an automobile confining a passenger by refusing to stop the vehicle. False imprisonment may occur when a police officer arrests and detains a suspect without a warrant or other legal authority. It may even occur when someone simply locks another person in a closet after an argument or altercation.

A charge of false imprisonment requires that the prosecution prove the following:

  • The defendant intentionally restrained, detained, or confined another person;
  • The restraint, detention, or confinement caused the victim to remain in one place or move to another place for some discernible time, regardless of brevity;
  • The victim did not consent to the restraint, detention, or confinement;
  • The victim suffered actual harm; and,
  • The defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the victim’s harm.

California Penal Code § 237 PC is the State’s statute that sets forth the penalties for false imprisonment. Under this section, false imprisonment is a type of wobbler offense, meaning that it can be punished as either a California misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, false imprisonment is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000; and/or, a maximum jail term of one year. If charged as a felony, a judge can sentence a guilty party to a county jail term of 16 months, two years or three years. Possible damages that a plaintiff may recover in a civil false imprisonment case include physical illness or injury; loss of time; physical discomfort; and business interruption.

Criminal law specialist John Patrick Dolan protects the rights of those charged with assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse. Mr. Dolan has over forty years of experience working to help his clients obtain the best resolution possible when freedom and reputation are at stake. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here. We guarantee our efforts to fight for the best possible outcome in your domestic violence case.

About The Crime Of False Imprisonment

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