False imprisonment sounds like a very intense charge to receive, but what exactly does it mean? Under New Jersey law, imprisonment is defined as knowingly restraining someone to interfere with their liberty. This crime is classified as a disorderly person’s offense. In addition, it comes with a variety of penalties, from jail time to potential community service. If you are charged with this crime, before you do anything else, contact a New Jersey attorney like Leon Matchin. An attorney can help get charges reduced or dismissed based on the situation. Often various defenses can be used to avoid the charge altogether, meaning no criminal record. Read on to learn more about false imprisonment and New Jersey attorney strategies for help.
What Is False Imprisonment?
According to New Jersey law 2C:13-3: “A person commits a disorderly person offense if he knowingly restrains another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with his liberty. In any prosecution under this section, it is an affirmative defense that the person restrained was a child less than 18 years old and that the actor was a relative or legal guardian of such child and that his sole purpose was to assume control of such child.”
As the law states, it is unlawful to restrain a person against their will. This could include physical restraint or just blocking a person’s movement. Physical restraint would include things like sitting on top of a person’s back so they couldn’t get up or placing them in a chokehold.
However, false imprisonment doesn’t have to be physical. It could include situations like locking someone in a room against their will. This charge could also occur if there was an immediate threat by someone to use physical force and restraint. Even if the act didn’t occur, depending on the situation, a false imprisonment charge could be given.
This charge can also be given to law enforcement officers. For example, detaining a person for arrest without a legal warrant in which the person is denied their liberties can also be false imprisonment.
Another situation is a store owner detaining a customer over suspicion of shoplifting. According to something called “shopkeeper’s privilege,” this is allowed. However, the store owner must have reasonable belief that theft was attempted or has occurred. If it unfolds that the defendant was held up for other reasons (i.e., race, ethnicity, etc.) false imprisonment can be charged against the store owner.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that this charge is separate from criminal restraint. A criminal restraint charge is when the victim has been exposed to serious bodily injuries as a result of the restraint.
There are many defenses that your attorney can use to help reduce charges or get them completely dropped.
False Imprisonment Penalties
So what types of consequences come along with false imprisonment charges? Unfortunately, it will result in a criminal record. In addition, the defendant will face up to 6 months in jail, fines up to $1,000, potential community service hours, and possible assessment fees to the Violent Crimes Compensation Board. As you can see, the penalties are intense. Getting a successful, experienced attorney to work on your case will be greatly beneficial.
With a false imprisonment charge, there are many potential defenses that can be used in the court of law. As always, the main goal of a New Jersey attorney is to get the charges completely dropped. If the charges can’t be dropped, your attorney will look to get them downgraded. This will hopefully avoid the criminal record and jail time. A plea to the municipal ordinance is the next option if charges cannot be dropped. This will ensure that the defendant will not receive a criminal record. Here are some possible defenses your attorney may be able to use in your case:
· The physical restraint was used on a child (someone under the age of 18) in order to control the child for the safety of the child and those around them. In this case, the person doing the restraining must be a relative or legal guardian of the child.
· Acting out of self-defense is another courtroom defense. For example, a woman feels physically threatened by her husband, so she locks him in a room for hours. Her husband then sues her for false imprisonment.
· A store owner detains a shopper for potential shoplifting, but the shopper accuses the owner of false imprisonment. We can prove that there was reasonable evidence worthy of the owner making the decision to detain the customer. Therefore, they were using their “shopkeeper’s privilege” right.
· A law enforcement officer who arrests a person without a warrant can have false imprisonment charges dropped due to there being probable cause that the person arrested was guilty or if the arrest was under legal authority.
A New Jersey Attorney
A false imprisonment charge is interesting because it can apply to so many different situations. From a store owner detaining a potential shoplifter to a person detaining a family member, this charge can occur in a wide range of situations. The charge is considered a disorderly person’s offense. It comes with penalties of jail time, fines, community services, and assessment fees. In addition, anyone charged with false imprisonment will potentially have a criminal record. Having a criminal record can be severely detrimental to one’s future. It can affect their ability to get certain jobs or apply for college. When working with an attorney, their main goal is to get the charges completely dropped. If that is not an option, they will work to get the charges downgraded. Therefore, the criminal record goes away and that the defendant won’t face jail time.
If you or a loved one have been charged with false imprisonment, give Leon Matchin, a New Jersey attorney, a call at 732-887-2479 or contact him via email at [email protected]. He will set up an initial consultation to learn more about you and your case.