You may think there’s no chance you could ever be accused of a crime like false imprisonment. The fact remains, you might just be caught off-guard with this charge.
In February, a teacher in Louisiana was charged with the false imprisonment of juveniles. The case was ultimately dropped, but it goes to show that even a teacher with good intentions can be charged with this serious crime under the right circumstances.
Here’s what you need to know about false imprisonment in Colorado and what type of defense may help you to remain free.
What is False Imprisonment in Colorado?
False imprisonment occurs when someone intentionally restricts the movement of another without their consent or legal authority.
This may be something such as not allowing someone to pass, blocking their exit, locking them in a room, or physically restraining them in some way. Even if you don’t mean to imprison someone else, you can be charged with the crime anyway.
A good example of false imprisonment is during a domestic dispute when one person physically blocks another from leaving the premises. No one is hurt but the perpetrator is still charged with false imprisonment as a result.
Penalties for False Imprisonment
In Colorado, false imprisonment is commonly charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor. This crime is punishable under Colorado law by up to one year in prison and fines of up to $1,000.
If you use the threat of force or force during the commission of the crime, or if the victim is held for a period of 12 hours or more, then you charged with a Class 5 felony. This can result in up to three years in prison. You can also be charged with a felony if:
- The victim was under the age of 18 and locked in a room that could lead to their harm or serious emotional distress.
- The same holds true when the act of confinement was a part of unreasonable isolation or a pattern of cruel punishment toward a minor.
- Chaining, caging, or physical restraints to detain or confine a child is also considered false imprisonment.
A conviction on any of these acts can be penalized by up to two years in prison and fines up to $100,000.
Possible Defenses Against False Imprisonment
False imprisonment charges can be quite difficult to prove. In a majority of cases, either the victim or an eye witness must testify since there isn’t likely to be much physical evidence available. That makes a few strategies good defenses against these charges, such as:
- Proving the victim consented to be detained
- That you were a peace officer performing official duties
- You confined the victim because you believed they were a danger to themselves
- The victim was free to go at any time and you did not try to stop them
With felony-level false imprisonment charges, different defenses can be used. Some of the most common include:
- Contesting that a threat of force or force was used against the victim
- Detaining a minor in your care as a part of your duties as a guardian to keep them safe
- The victim was not detained for more than 12 hours
Being charged with false imprisonment is serious and can be a charge that has a big impact on your life. You can avoid these charges by understanding what false imprisonment is so you don’t accidentally take part in it and understanding you’re rights if you are accused.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.