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Home blog Criminal Defense What is False Imprisonment?

What is False Imprisonment?

By Michael Guisti on September 27, 2015

Orange CountyIt’s a term that we often hear on the nightly news: “The individual was arrested and charged with one count of false imprisonment.” While the idea sounds straightforward enough, it is a very complicated situation. For instance, in recent months there have been a number of reports of Arab princes taking up summer residence in Beverly Hills and engaging in all manner of bad behavior: speeding, reckless driving, disturbing the peace. But, the out of control rich bad boy behavior became very serious when a Saudi prince was arrested after a woman was found bloody and screaming trying to scale a fence surrounding his luxury property. As the LA Times reports, one of the charges the prince now faces is false imprisonment.

Of course, the Saudi prince is assumed to have fled the country at this point, but that leaves us with the question: what exactly did he do to warrant the charge? According to California Penal Code 236 PC, the accused is believed to have committed an unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another.” In other words, the man in question is believed to have deliberately detained the victim against her will in such a way that she feared for her life. That fear could have come from threats of violence or actual physical aggression. It is important to note that the victim DID NOT need to be physically “imprisoned” for this charge to be brought. Simply grabbing her arm or menacing her with words or a weapon would have been enough for the authorities.

How Could I be Accused of False Imprisonment?

The story mentioned above is an extreme example of how someone could be charged with such a crime. So, how would accusations of false imprisonment play out in less high-profile situations? In many instances, false imprisonment is part of a larger criminal act. For instance, if you rob a liquor store at gunpoint and in the process made everyone in the store lay-down on the ground and stay there until you fled – that would be considered a case of false imprisonment. The people were not physically detained, but the fear of being harmed by you kept them “imprisoned.

But this example can go a step further. Following the robbery, the owner of the store locks the door and “detains” all the customers, believing that someone assisted the thief from the inside. This is known as “shopkeeper’s privilege.” Unfortunately, if the storeowner is wrong and unlawfully detains an innocent customer, they can find themselves facing a false imprisonment charge. Going a step even further, if one customer accuses another innocent individual of aiding the thief and attempts to block their exit by grabbing their arm or threatening them with a citizen’s arrest, they could be accused of false imprisonment as well.

These are only a few examples of false imprisonment. If you have been charged you may be facing an altogether different situation, which demands an experienced criminal defense attorney. If this is the case, be sure to call the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, day or night, at (714) 707-2797 and schedule an appointment.

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