Law Against False Imprisonment
Persons have the right to not be restrained or confined by someone else without consent or legal justification. This right applies to those being detained by police officers and civilians. However, if someone is unlawfully held without their consent, they can pursue criminal and civil cases. In California, it is a crime to falsely imprison a person without their consent.
For example, two friends are in the middle of a discussion and both disagree with one another. Friend A decides to leave the discussion by exiting the room, but Friend B closes and locks the door in order to prevent Friend A from leaving. This is illegal.
The article below is a summary of the crime; however, we encourage you to reach out to us if you have been accused, or have been the victim, of false imprisonment.
How Does False Imprisonment Occur?
Under California Penal Code Section 236, it is illegal to falsely imprison another individual. If the victim calls the police and the prosecutor moves forward with charges, the defendant can only be found guilty of the crime if the prosecutor meets their burden of proof. It must be proven that the defendant restrained, detained, or confined the victim without the victim’s consent and, thereby doing so, the victim had to remain or go somewhere. Most importantly, the imprisonment occurred without the victim’s consent and their detention was against their will. The detainment/confinement can occur in a myriad of ways; the victim could have been physically restrained or even threatened.
Penalties for Committing False Imprisonment
There are some legitimate defenses against a false imprisonment charge. For example, police officers have the right (in appropriate cases) to detain individuals. This defense cannot be used if the police officer did not have the legal right to do so. Another common defense is to prove that the victim actually consented to the act.
However, if the defendant is found guilty, they face a misdemeanor with jail time of up to a year and fines. The conviction can increase to a felony in some circumstances and, if this does occur, the defendant could be sentenced to years in prison.