In California, domestic violence crimes are treated seriously. Prosecutors receive special training and zealously work to convict those accused of a domestic violence offense. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can make a large difference in your case. At the Law Office of Gregory H. Comings, we understand that when faced with domestic disputes, every person reacts differently. False imprisonment may be charged in a domestic violence case when one person knowingly forces another to remain in place against their will. In some cases, false imprisonment charges accompany other related crimes, such as domestic battery. If you are facing criminal charges, Riverside domestic violence defense lawyer Gregory H. Comings is prepared to advise you of your legal options and rights. We work aggressively to reduce your sentence, or possibly dismiss pending criminal charges.
False imprisonment is the crime of keeping a person restrained against their will. It does not require long-term restraint. Specifically, California Penal Code Section 236 makes it unlawful to violate the personal liberty of another. The court will look at whether the defendant intentionally and unlawfully restrained, confined, or detained someone through violence or menace. They will also assess whether the defendant made the other person stay or move somewhere, against that person’s will.
Specifically, “violence” is defined as a force greater than is reasonably necessary to restrain someone. Menace refers to a threat of harm, this can be verbal or physical. A threat of harm may be express or implied. An example of an express threat of harm could occur during an argument, if the husband grabs his wife’s arm as she tries to walk away. He may face charges for misdemeanor false imprisonment under California Penal Code 237 (a) PC.
“Menace” is often understood as the threat of violence which induces reasonable fear on the part of the victim. This fear may be due to verbal threats, such as saying you are going to hurt someone. The significant question is whether the victim had a reasonable fear they or another person would be subject to violence.
It is also important to understand that false imprisonment does not have a minimum time requirement for the commission of the crime. A person may face charges for false imprisonment if they are accused of confining the victim for days or a few moments.
False imprisonment takes different forms. A person may physically block a door, or hide car keys. If the defendant reasonably forces the person to remain in place when they want to leave, that is enough to constitute the offense.
As a wobbler crime in California, the prosecution may charge false imprisonment as a felony or a misdemeanor. A prosecutor must show violence as a requirement for a felony charge of false imprisonment. A misdemeanor conviction of false imprisonment may result in up to a year imprisonment and court fines. You may also face probation requirements. A felony-level false imprisonment can lead to county jail up to three years.
In a domestic violence dispute, if the victim consented to the detention or restraint, then the defendant would not be criminally liable for the crime. Consent may be shown through audio recording, or a text or email message. If there were witnesses to the dispute, this can also strengthen the defense of consent.
In some cases the prosecution may be challenged to gather sufficient evidence to prove the defendant’s intent to restrain. An experienced defense attorney may be able to argue that you did not have the intent to detain or confine another person. In this situation, the criminal charge(s) against you would be dropped.
Riverside domestic violence defense lawyer Gregory H. Comings works to develop persuasive and effective arguments to secure a successful outcome, based on the facts of your case. We understand no two cases are alike, and for that reason we take time to listen to our clients and cater each defense to their needs. We can be reached by calling (951) 686-3457 or online, through our website form. Call today to schedule a complimentary meeting to discuss your criminal charges.