False imprisonment is a criminal offense that encompasses more than just restraining or holding another person. In addition, false imprisonment is often Kidnapping but the two are not necessarily the same charge. False imprisonment is outlined as, “The defendant intentionally and unlawfully restrained, detained or confined someone by using violence or menace. The defendant made the other person stay or go somewhere against that person's will.” There are two applicable elements to false imprisonment. If one is charged with false imprisonment there is an array of possible defenses that may be applicable. Depending on the specifics of the case the punishment can vary. Lastly, there are some mitigating factors that may lessen the punishment
Understanding the elements of a False Imprisonment Charge in San Diego
There are two applicable elements to the false imprisonment charge. We have to break the rule down into two different parts, “(A)The defendant intentionally and unlawfully restrained, detained or confined someone by using violence or menace, and (B) the defendant made the other person stay or go somewhere against that person's will.” California Criminal Jury Instruction 1240. The state has to prove both of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the state cannot prove this to that measure then one should not be charged with. We will look at each element in depth and fully break it down to understand what qualifies as the element.
The defendant intentionally and unlawfully restrained, detained or confined someone by using violence or menace.
The defendant intentionally and unlawfully restrained, detained or confined someone by using violence or menace. We must look at what intentionally means in the first part of this element. In addition, we must look at unlawfully. Moreover, we will look at the definition of restrained, detained, and confine. Lastly, violence or menace will be examined. Thus, we will look at the first element of false imprisonment in further depth.
The first part of this element is that one must have intent. n actor is not liable for false imprisonment unless his act is done for the purpose of imposing confinement upon the other, or with knowledge that such a confinement will, to a substantial certainty, result from it; it is not enough that the actor realizes or should realize that his actions involve a risk of causing a confinement, so long as the likelihood that it will do so falls short of a substantial certainty. Garcia v. City of Merced, 637 F.Supp.2d 731. This is essential to be charged with the crime. An example of this would be that a security guard was looking u the store and he knew a customer was somehow still inside, but he still proceeded to lock the store up with the customer still inside. Because the security guard knew the customer was still inside the store and proceeded to locked him in, he had the appropriate intent to fulfill the first element. The reverse of this would be the security guard was locking up the store and was unaware of a customer that was still inside that happen to get locked in. Because the security guard was unaware of the customer’s presence in the store he did not have the intent to falsely imprison them in the store and cannot be charged with false imprisonment. Thus, the appropriate intent is essential for the first element.
The next part of the first element is whether the imprisonment was lawful. Under this section, defining “false imprisonment” to be “the unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another,” the imprisonment being proven, the law presumes it unlawful, and it is for the defendant to show that it was lawful. People v. McGrew (1888) 77 Cal. 570, 20 P. 92. If you are charged with false imprisonment it will essentially be presumed that it was unlawful. If the imprisonment was lawful, then that would be applicable defense and be discussed later. Moreover, this can even apply to police officers who misuse their powers and act in bad faith while detaining someone. An example would be an officer sees one whom he had an issue with years ago and pulls him over for no reason to harass him and later handcuff him, all while acting in revenge. This would be unlawful because the officer had bad intentions misused his power and were malicious in his arrest. The counter to this would an officer sees someone who fits a description of another who had just committed a crime. The officer stops and questions him and finds out this is not the person he was looking for and lets them go on their way. This is not false imprisonment because the officer was acting in good faith and maliciously targeting the other person. This would make the officer’s imprisonment lawful. Thus, it is essential that the imprisonment is unlawful.
The last part of this first element of false imprisonment is that one restrained, detained or confined. Restraint would be limiting ones are, a classic example would be handcuffing one. Detained is essentially the basics of holding another and limiting their area. Confinement is the one that is a bit different than one would expect. While it does include locking someone in a room or some type of jail cell, it need not be a classic thought that comes to mind when we think of confinement. The law also states to us that “False imprisonment does not require confinement in some type of enclosed space.” People v. Dominguez (App. 2 Dist. 2010), 180 Cal.App.4th 1351. With this definition giving us a deeper look into the rule it shows us that confinement can actually be pretty broad and may be able to happen places where it would seem not possible. An example would be if a person sat another in the middle of a field and said if get up and move I am going to shoot you. That person would still be confined because they cannot move. That are still set to a specific area against their will, even though that area has no walls or obstructions from letting them move. This illustrates how broad this part of the element can be and that on its face it may be a little deceiving. Thus, it is needed to show that one restrained, detained or confined.
Last part of the first element is that the one charged had to use violence or menace. Violence means using physical force that is greater than the force reasonably necessary to restrain someone. Menace means a verbal or physical threat of harm, including the use of a deadly weapon. The threat of harm may be express or implied. California Criminal Jury Instruction 1240. Because the rule says, “violence or menace” only one of these must be present to be charged. Violence essentially encompasses any force that is used on the victim to carry out the act of false imprisonment. An example would be beating someone. In addition, menace covers threats. This is if the person charged did use force, but may have threatened to use force if one did not comply. Also, it does not have to outright spoken that one will hurt another, a gesture could possibly be enough. An example for this could possibly put a gun up to one’s head. That would be a threat without verbally stating it. Thus, violence or menace is needed to be charged for false imprisonment.
Therefore, the first element to false imprisonment is that one defendant intentionally and unlawfully restrained, detained or confined someone by using violence or menace.
The defendant made the other person stay or go somewhere against that person's will.
The second element is that the defendant made the other person stay or go somewhere against that person's will. This element is more straight forward than the first because it relies on that the victim did not have consent. Consent is where the alleged victim gives the one charged the right to restrain or confine or not. However, consent of the victim is not given when the consent is induced by coercion or deception or where the victim is incapable of consenting due to unsoundness of mind or tenderness of years. People v. Dominguez (App. 2 Dist. 2010), 180 Cal.App.4th 1351. This shows us that consent alone will depend on certain circumstances. To go back to a previous example. If the victim says. “I will stay in this room and not try to leave or escape.” But, they said this because the one charged with false imprisonment said that they would kill the victim if they try to leave. This is still against the victims will because it is unreasonable for them not to consent and the consent emerged from a threat of physically injury. Consent will be discussed again as a possible defense later. Thus, the second element of false imprisonment is that the defendant made the other person stay or go somewhere against that person's will.
Therefore, the rule for false imprisonment is, “The defendant intentionally and unlawfully restrained, detained or confined someone by using violence or menace, and the defendant made the other person stay or go somewhere against that person's will.”
Understanding the Defenses to a False Imprisonment Charge in San Diego
If one is charged with false imprisonment there some applicable defenses that may be suitable to the particular situation. The first possible defense is that you may have lawfully detained the victim. In addition, another possible defense is that one acted in good faith. Lastly, it may be seen that the alleged victim’s presence was voluntary. If these defenses are applicable to the situation it is possible that one is not guilty of false imprisonment and that the charges be dropped. Therefore, there are multiple defenses that one may be able to use.
The first possible defense is that you may have lawfully detained the victim.
The first possible defense is that you may have lawfully detained the victim. This defense would correlate with the first element of false imprisonment. Because if the confinement or detention of the alleged victim was lawful then one would be acting within their rights and the crime would fail on the first element. A common example would be a citizen’s arrest. If a citizen acts within their rights to apprehend a criminal or one who could be detained the arrest by the citizen was lawful. An example would be Tom is walking down the street and he sees Jack running with a bag of money and police chasing him. So, Tom tackles Jake and holds him down against his will till the police arrive. Technically Tom fulfilled all the elements for false imprisonment but he fails on the aspect that imprisoning Jake was not unlawful. Because this was not unlawful Tom cannot be charged for false imprisonment. Thus, a lawful detaining of another may be a possible defense to one if charged with false imprisonment.
Another possible defense is that one acted in good faith.
Another possible defense is that one acted in good faith. This is a more special defense and would fit a smaller number of situations than most. But if one is charged with false imprisonment and acted in good faith it may serve as a defense to the charge. An example would possibly be if there are two spouses that had a heated argument and one threaten to kill themselves as they were about to walk out of the door. In return, the other spouse does not let them leave because they are worried that they may actually go through with hurting themselves. Because the other spouses acted in good faith it may be possible that they have a defense even though they both the elements of false imprisonment were fulfilled. Another example would be not letting someone intoxicated drive home until they sober up from your party. Thus, this defense fits in limited circumstances but it may be applicable one’s case.
Lastly, it may be seen that the alleged victim’s presence was voluntary.
Lastly, it may be seen that the alleged victim’s presence was voluntary. This defense is in relation to the second element of false imprisonment that we discussed above. If one consents to the imprisonment or confinement than once cannot be charged for the crime. An example of this is that one is going on a road trip and a friend says they want to go along and they get in the car and are confined in the car for a period of time. Because they wanted to go in the car and consented to the trip one cannot be charged with. Thus, consent can be a valid defense to one who is charged with false imprisonment.
Therefore, there are multiple defenses that may be possible to one’s case if they are charged with false imprisonment.
Understanding the Punishment to a False Imprisonment Charge in San Diego
The punishment for a false imprisonment charge can vary depending on the situation. It can be a felony, which would result in harsher punishment. In addition, it can be a misdemeanor which would be a lesser penalty. Thus, the penalty can differ depending on case specifics.
If one is found guilty and it is a felony offense there is an array of punishments that may be applicable. The time served can be anywhere from sixteen moths to three years in state prison, and up to a ten thousand dollar fine. However, it may also have counseling or community service. Thus, false imprisonment may be charged as a felony.
If the False imprisonment charge is a misdemeanor the punishment is significantly lighter. If the charge is only a misdemeanor then the longest time served would be one year in county jail, in addition, a possibility of a one thousand dollar fine. Thus, false imprisonment may be charged as a misdemeanor.
There are Mitigating Factors the Court Must Consider in a False Imprisonment Conviction in San Diego
A mitigating factor is something that can possibly reduce one’s punishment if they are charged with false imprisonment. A mitigating factor could possibly be that this is one’s first offense. Because it is one’s first offense the court may feel some sympathy for the one charged and rule on a lighter sentence because of this. In addition, maybe the facts and circumstances are not as harsh and the court will lessen the sentence. An example would be a heated discussion between spouses and one did commit false imprisonment but the court feels sympathy because it was not a typical false imprisonment case. Lastly, the false imprisonment charge may be lessened to a misdemeanor if the one charged did not use force, violence, threat, fraud or deceit to accomplish the false imprisonment. Thus, there are possible mitigating factors that may lessen the punishment for false imprisonment.
Hire a Lawyer who Specializes in False Imprisonment Cases in San Diego
The rule for false imprisonment is the defendant intentionally and unlawfully restrained, detained or confined someone by using violence or menace, and the defendant made the other person stay or go somewhere against that person's will. There are multiple defenses that may be applicable to one’s case. Also, false imprisonment may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. Lastly, there may be mitigating factors that lessen the sentence. Attorney Vik Monder has handled thousands of criminal cases in San Diego Courts and many have allegations of False Imprisonment. It is important that you hire an attorney that specializes in the type of charge you are facing in order to get the best possible outcome for yourself.