Unlawful Imprisonment

Dedicated Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney Standing Up for the Rights of Clients Facing False Imprisonment Charges

Unlawful imprisonment, sometimes referred to as false imprisonment, is a serious crime that involves holding or moving someone someone against their will. Unlawful imprisonment is similar to kidnapping, and so prosecutors will typically charge unlawful imprisonment as a lesser-included offense of kidnapping. However, regardless of the other crimes charged, anyone facing these charges should reach out to an experienced Phoenix unlawful imprisonment lawyer to ensure they have a solid defense.

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we have more than 25 years of experience creating persuasive, strategic defenses on behalf of clients charged with unlawful imprisonment. We take a comprehensive approach to every case we handle, ensuring we review all possible defenses with you before selecting which is most likely to result in an acquittal or withdrawn charges.

What is the Crime of Unlawful Imprisonment?

Under Arizona Revised Statutes §13-1303, unlawful imprisonment involves knowingly and unlawfully restraining another person. The key elements of this offense include:

Restraint: The act of physically confining or restricting a person's movements without legal authority in a way that significantly limits their freedom. This can occur through physical force, threats, or other means. While the crime is called unlawful imprisonment, the definition of restraint includes restricting someone’s freedom by moving them from one place to another against their will.

Knowledge: The person committing the act must be aware that they are unlawfully restricting the victim's freedom. Thus, the prosecution must prove an intentional or knowing act rather than an accidental or negligent one.

Unlawfulness: The restraint must be without legal justification. This means that the person restraining another does not have a legal right or authority to do so. For example, police officers may lawfully restrain individuals under certain conditions, but if such conditions are not met, the restraint could be unlawful.

Confinement: The victim must be confined in a specific location or bound to prevent free movement. However, the definition can also extend to situations where a person is restrained to a degree that they are unable to leave or move freely.

Is Unlawful Imprisonment a Serious Crime?

In Arizona, unlawful imprisonment can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the specific facts of the case. If the alleged victim was voluntarily released without harm in a safe place, then unlawful imprisonment is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, if the victim was harmed or not released before your arrest, you’ll face a Class 6 felony.

How is Unlawful Imprisonment Different From Kidnapping Under Arizona Law?

Unlawful imprisonment and kidnapping are related but distinct crimes under Arizona law, with the main differences being the intent behind the unlawful restraint.

Under Arizona law, unlawful imprisonment occurs when a person knowingly restrains another person unlawfully, preventing their free movement. The restraint does not necessarily have to be for an extended period or involve movement from one place to another. Kidnapping, on the other hand, involves knowingly restraining another person with the intent to either hold them for ransom or to hurt, kill, or sexually assault them. Thus, the distinguishing factor between kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment is the specific intent behind the act.

Have You Been Charged With Unlawful Imprisonment?

If you were recently arrested and charged with unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping, or similar offenses, it is imperative that you immediately contact a Phoenix unlawful imprisonment lawyer for assistance. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we’re familiar with the best unlawful imprisonment defenses and how to use them to reduce your exposure early on. In fact, we’re often able to convince the prosecutor to drop the most serious charges well before trial. Of course, as experienced litigators, we won’t hesitate to take your case to trial if the prosecution is unwilling to extend a fair plea agreement. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with our Phoenix criminal defense lawyer today, call 480-413-1499. You can also reach us through our secure online contact form.

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