False Imprisonment Charges And Defenses In Florida
When we think of the term “false imprisonment”, we tend to think of a victim being locked away and trapped – not of the many other ways a false imprisonment charge can come about. False imprisonment under Florida law involves any situation where a person is restrained or confined against their will. Under Florida Statutes Sec. 787.02, this can also include confinement of a child under the age of 13 without the permission of their parent or guardian.
What is “restraint” or “confinement”? Essentially, any act that deprives another person of their personal liberty or freedom of movement – for any length of time – can constitute false imprisonment under Florida law. This is distinguishable from the charge of kidnapping under Florida law, which requires a showing that the perpetrator had specific intent to hold the victim for ransom, inflict bodily harm, commit a felony, or interfere with some governmental function.
False imprisonment does not require specific intent to commit some further act. Even grabbing a person by their arm or physically cornering them can lead to a charge and conviction for false imprisonment in Florida. Because of the limited requirements to show false imprisonment, the charge often arises in a domestic violence context. Where a person uses any type of physical or verbal force to restrain or intimidate a person – even in their own home, the aggressor can be charged with false imprisonment.
Penalties for False Imprisonment in Florida
False imprisonment in Florida is a third degree felony, with penalties up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000.00. If the alleged victim is under 13 years old and the perpetrator allegedly committed sexual abuse or battery in the process, the defendant can be charged with a first degree felony with fines up to $10,000 and penalties up to life in prison.
There can be numerous other personal and professional consequences to a false imprisonment charge as well. Further if the defendant is ever charged with another crime that is assaultive in nature, the previous false imprisonment conviction can be considered during the charging and sentencing phases.
What Prosecutors Must Prove in a False Imprisonment Case
Under Florida law, in false imprisonment cases, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The Defendant either forcibly, secretly, or by threat:
The victim against their will; and
2. The Defendant had no lawful authority to do so.
Potential Defenses in a Florida False Imprisonment Case
Some defenses can include:
- The alleged victim was a trespasser, and the restraint was carried out to protect a person and their home, or prevent other acts of violence
- Consent of the alleged victim
- Parental authority to restrict the movement of the alleged victim (for example, “grounding” a child in the home)
- The accusations are false, or the prosecution lacks evidence to support the claim
Because of the sometimes vague circumstances in many false imprisonment cases, it is important for a defendant to put their best foot forward and work with a skilled Orlando criminal defense attorney. Having an experienced and knowledgeable legal team at their side can help a person get their side of the story heard and clear their name when possible.
The Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys at Joshi Law Firm, PA Care about You and Your Case
If you were arrested and charged with false imprisonment after any kind of incident, you have important legal rights and a chance to share the facts that support your case. Our Orlando criminal defense team at Joshi Law Firm will review these facts with you, as well as the prosecution’s evidence to determine the legal strategies available to you. To get started today, contact our legal team by completing our online case questionnaire or calling our office today at 407-661-1109.