Miami and other Floridians may be surprised to learn they face charges of false imprisonment. This is an all too common offense. False imprisonment occurs when a person is restrained, confined, or abducted against their will and without legal cause. Due to the broad statutory language, false imprisonment charges could stem from an array of circumstances, ranging from a momentary grasping of another’s arm to refusing to unlock the car door when asked.
Under Florida criminal law, unlawful imprisonment is a felony offense and those arrested need to act quickly by contacting an experienced criminal trial lawyer. Time is of the essence, the faster an experienced criminal attorney is retained, the easier it is to fight back and protect your rights.Understanding the Elements of False Imprisonment
False imprisonment charges are complex, but an experienced criminal trial attorney can help you understand the crime’s elements. In order for the prosecution to successfully convict a defendant of False Imprisonment under Florida Statute 787.02, they must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- the defendant deliberately abducted, imprisoned, restrained, or confined the victim;
- the victim did not grant their permission to be imprisoned; and
- the defendant had no legal right or authority to imprison another.
While many cases involve physical restraint, the threat of physical harm is enough to constitute an imprisonment.Potential Penalties
False imprisonment can be a first, second, or third degree felony in Florida. If the victim is an adult, the crime carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If the victim is a child under the age of thirteen, the offense is considered a first degree felony and punishable by up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The precise penalty is dependent upon the details and circumstances of the case.How can an Experienced Miami Criminal Defense Attorney Help?
Criminal defense lawyers are prepared to consider your case in a free consultation and consider the possible defenses available to you. Common legal defenses to false imprisonment include:
- The defendant was acting in self-defense: The defendant was forced to constrain the victim to avoid the threat of harm.
- The victim consented to the imprisonment: If the victim has consented, the crime could not have occurred.
- The victim was actually free to leave: The victim was entirely free to leave at all times, but failed to do so.
- The defendant has legal authority to arrest: When the defendant is exercising their legal right to confine another, the imprisonment is justified. For example, shopkeepers may be justified under some circumstances to restrain a shoplifter.
- And more.
Your future depends on the competency and experience of your criminal attorney. If you have been charged with unlawful imprisonment in Miami or South Florida, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately for a free consultation.