Have you been Charged with False Imprisonment in Georgia?
Being able to go where you please is one of the freedoms we have. When someone prevents you or restrains you from leaving, a crime may have occurred. One of those crimes is called false imprisonment. False imprisonment is also known as criminal restraint or criminal confinement. A crime has transpired when someone has been unlawfully restrained by another without the victim's consent. If you or a loved one has been charged with false imprisonment, contact Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia False Imprisonment Attorneys. You deserve to have a lawyer who is knowledgeable in this field helping and guiding you along with your case. Don't wait to call, call today to schedule a free consultation.
Georgia Law O.C.G.A. § 16-5-41 reads as follows:
A person commits the offense of false imprisonment when, in violation of the personal liberty of another, he arrests, confines, or detains such person without legal authority.
False imprisonment shares some similarities to the crime of kidnapping. However, kidnapping is a more severe crime as it includes moving the victim in some form or fashion.
In the case of Kiser v. State, the defendant was found guilty of false imprisonment under O.C.G.A. §16-5-41. 327 Ga. App. 17 (2014). The victim received a telephone call from a friend, Zachary, who owed victim $575. Zachary asked the victim to come to his mobile home to get the money. When the victim arrived at the mobile home, he saw Kiser, who he had met before. Kiser signaled victim to come inside and then shut the door behind him and stood at the door like he was standing guard. After a minute, the victim saw another man walk out of the back room of the mobile home with a gun pointed straight out. The victim feared for his life and dove through a closed glass window in the rear bedroom of the mobile home. During the trial, Kiser argued that the evidence was insufficient to support a false imprisonment conviction because no one prevented the victim from leaving through the window and no one told the victim he could not leave. The victim testified that he could not leave through the only door to the mobile home because Kiser was blocking it and the other man had a gun. The Court found the evidence sufficient to convict the defendant of false imprisonment.
Another case where the defendant was found guilty of false imprisonment was in Taylor v. State. 318 Ga. App. 115 (2012). Taylor and his co-conspirator entered a Metro PCS store, and Taylor approached two women and a child and told them that they were about to rob the place. Taylor pulled out a gun and cocked it, and forced them to the back of the store and to lie on the floor. Then Taylor and his partner went behind the counter and forced the store employee to empty the cash register, and then they exited the store. The Court found that there was sufficient evidence to found the conclusion that Taylor should be convicted of false imprisonment.
What has to be Proven
To be convicted of false imprisonment, the State must demonstrate that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That includes showing that the accused had the intent to confine the victim and that there were no reasonable means of escape. Your Georgia False Imprisonment Attorney's job is to create doubt and point out holes in the State's argument.
Penalty for a False Imprisonment Conviction in Georgia
The penalty for being convicted of false imprisonment is confinement for at least one year but less than ten years, and the conviction will be deemed a felony. A suspect could also be subject to fines as well.
Also, if the victim was a child under 14 years old who is not a child of the suspect then the suspect, will be subject to increased penalties.
If the imprisonment lasted for more than 12 hours, the suspect might be subject to increased penalties or charges.
In addition to a prison sentence or fine, there are other consequences for a conviction of false imprisonment. The victim from could bring a civil action against you for damages. They could sue you and recover monetary damages. The monetary damages could include:
- Compensatory damages which would include the value of the property and any other loss sustained as a result of the theft
- Liquidated exemplary damages amounting to $150 or twice the value of the loss (as long as the total amount of the claim is less than $5,000)
- Or the costs of bringing the suit against you
Also, there is a possibility that the court would impose probation instead of jail time for part of the sentence or instead of a jail sentence. This is left to the judge's discretion and is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If put on probation, the defendant would be required to meet regularly with a probation officer. There would also be conditions they would have to satisfy such as submitting to drug tests, performing community service, attending counseling, etc.
A felony conviction will have detrimental consequences in your life. It can affect your ability to buy a house, car, or obtain credit. It could also cause you to lose the ability to obtain a firearm in the future. Felony convictions are not to be taken lightly, and that is why it is crucial for you to contact one of our Georgia False Imprisonment Lawyers to assist you with your case. They are aware of all the different consequences of having a false imprisonment charge, and they will do their best to help you avoid a conviction.
False Imprisonment Defenses
Lack of Intent: False imprisonment requires the suspect has the requisite intent to confine the victim. An example of this is if some store employees were locking up after the store closed. They forgot to check to see if anyone was in the changing room and they locked someone in the store all night. If the victim sued, she would lose because the employees did not have the intent to falsely imprison the victim.
A valid arrest was made: If you were lawfully arrested, then you are unable to claim that you were falsely imprisoned.
There was a reasonable way out: If the victim knows of a reasonable means of escape, then there was no confinement. An example of this is if the victim was locked in a room on the first floor of a building and there was an open window.
Consent: If the victim agreed to be detained, then the suspect cannot be guilty of false imprisonment because it requires that it be against the victim's will.
It was lawful imprisonment: There are a couple of exceptions such as the shopkeeper's privilege which allows store owners to detail someone that they believe stole something or was trying to steal something from their store. However, the store owner must have some justification for detaining the victim.
But the victim did not know they were being detained: If the victim has no idea they were being detained, then you cannot be guilty of false imprisonment. The crime requires that the victim is aware of their detainment.
Threats of reputational harm are insufficient: An example of this is if Sarah tells Melissa that if she leaves her room, Sarah will tell everyone that Melissa is a virgin. Melissa stays in her room for a month and then sues Sarah for false imprisonment. There is no confinement because it was just a threat of reputational harm.
The victim was not confined: Not letting someone go where they want to go is not enough to prove false imprisonment. There must be some sort of confinement. For instance, if a road was closed due to a parade and the victim wanted to go down the road but the police made her go another way, there was no false imprisonment.
What are Not Defenses
It was only for a short time period: There is not set period required for it to be considered false imprisonment. Even if it was for a minute, that is enough to be convicted.
I was a minor and should not have been imprisoned: Some states like Georgia allow a person to restrain a minor if they have satisfied the requirements like received the parent's consent.
I was detained by my parents: Parents may have the authority to detain their children as long as it does not endanger the child. If you were jeopardized during the imprisonment, then you could have a defense.
There was one way to escape: If there is one way to escape but it involves jumping from a high height or another dangerous way, then that is not considered an escape route. The escape must be one a reasonable person would consider taking.
I didn't use any force: False imprisonment does not require that force or threats of force be used.
Having knowledgeable representation is of up the utmost importance when facing a criminal charge. Your Georgia False Imprisonment Attorney will investigate all the details surrounding your case and evaluate your options. They will be available all the time to you – even nights and weekends – because your case is important. Lawson and Berry and their team of False Imprisonment Attorneys will work with you to fight your charge and avoid a conviction. Call today and schedule a free consultation.