Facing criminal charges can often be one of the scariest and most intense experiences of a person’s life. An arrest record can affect future employment prospects, relationships, and civil rights. Adding insult to injury, the lawmakers of our state who draft the criminal statutes often leave us with vague and overbroad laws that are difficult for the layman to properly decipher. All of this, along with overzealous police and prosecutors enforcing these laws, can make it seem like the deck is stacked against those accused of crime. While it is true that the government and our society try to do everything possible to strip criminal defendants of a chance at fairness, criminal defense lawyers stand out as defenders of fairness. A skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney can often be the difference between a conviction or a dismissal of your criminal charges.
One of the vague and overbroad laws that can carry significant punishments is false imprisonment. Like many crimes, the thought of false imprisonment brings to mind media dramatizations. The crazed serial killer who locks a victim in a basement or the gang member who kidnaps a child for ransom are the caricatures that we think of because of popular culture and today’s news cycle. While those scenarios certainly fall under the definition of false imprisonment, the reality is that people can be charged with such a crime in much more mundane situations than those.Elements of False Imprisonment
The crime of false imprisonment is codified as Florida Statute 787.02. The law defines false imprisonment as “forcibly, by threat, or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning, or restraining another person without lawful authority and against her or his will.” False imprisonment is considered a third degree felony punishable by up to five years of imprisonment or probation. Looking at the wording of the statute, one can see that the vague definition of “false imprisonment” allows for many more factual scenarios than the ones that are typically portrayed in the media.
For example, imagine a situation in which a couple get into a verbal argument. If the female tried to leave the room and the male blocked the door, even temporarily, preventing her from leaving the room, false imprisonment could be charged. While no person should forcibly prevent another from freely moving around, one can see how a relatively minor moment can turn into a serious criminal charge. If you have been charged with false imprisonment under any circumstances, you should not hesitate to contact a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer.Penalties for False Imprisonment
At its base level, false imprisonment is a third degree felony. This means that if a person is convicted of false imprisonment and the victim is an adult, the maximum possible penalty is five years. However, like many criminal statutes, there are certain factual circumstances that increase the potential punishments. False imprisonment, when committed against a child under the age of 13 and combined with certain other offenses, can become a far more serious offense. For example, if in the course of committing a false imprisonment, the state can prove that a person also committed aggravated child abuse, sexual battery, lewd and lascivious battery, exploitation of a child, or human trafficking, the false imprisonment charge is increased to a first degree felony punishable by life in prison.
False imprisonment is the type of charge that you don’t want to have on your record. No matter the actual facts of the case, when a potential employer sees a conviction for false imprisonment, their thoughts will immediately turn to the portrayal of false imprisonment in popular media. If you’ve been charged with such an offense, you should take every action you can to protect your rights. The most important thing you can do is retain a competent St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
The lawyers at Hanlon Law are prepared to build the best defense for your case. Don’t hesitate to call us today for a consultation at 727.897.5413.