False Imprisonment/Kidnapping

Kidnapping and false imprisonment are gravely serious crimes in Florida.

Fort Lauderdale domestic violence defense lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm, have represented numerous clients facing these types of charges. Building a strong, successful defense requires legal intervention early on in the case.

The terms “kidnapping” and “false imprisonment” tend to conjure images of a lock and key or a blindfolded victim held in demand for ransom.

However, these crimes are most commonly raised in the context of alleged domestic violence in Florida. It involves simply restraining someone without authority against that person’s will. This restraint doesn’t necessarily have to involve a locked door or handcuffs or even a weapon.

Instead, it merely means the alleged victim is unable to move.

Even temporary restraint – for a few minutes or less – can constitute false imprisonment that can result in a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

Kidnapping, similarly, can be charged over a brief interaction. It means simply confining, abducting or imprisoning someone against his or her will without lawful authority for one of a myriad of purposes, which may include infliction of bodily harm.

False Imprisonment: Definition and Defenses

False imprisonment in Florida is codified in F.S. 787.02 , which essentially breaks down to the age of the alleged victim.

Where the victim is an adult or person over the age of 13, the crime involves forcibly, by threat or secret confinement abducting someone or restraining them or imprisoning them against his or her will and without the lawful authority to do so.

However, if a victim is under the age of 13, the same language applies, except that the child’s “will” also accounts for the parent or legal guardian’s consent – or lack thereof.

In the first scenario (which is where most domestic violence-related cases will fall), false imprisonment is a third-degree felony, meaning it’s punishable by up to five years in prison. It’s the same penalty for children under 13 – except when the purpose of the confinement is to commit certain felonies – child abuse included.

There are a number of ways to defend against the charge of false imprisonment. First, a defendant may try to show the confinement was in good faith. Usually, this means showing that it was for the protection of the individual being confined.

For example, let’s say a couple is drunk and arguing and one grabs the keys to drive away. Taking away their keys so they do not drive drunk and hurt themselves or someone else likely isn’t going to be considered false imprisonment. However, it depends on the circumstances.

Another way to approach the case would be to show consent by the alleged victim. Alternatively, a defendant might seek to prove lack of evidence a confinement even occurred. He or she might also show the confinement was authorized, that it was a merchant’s confinement or that he or she had parental authority to carry out the confinement.

Legal strategy is going to depend heavily on the circumstances of your case. Because of the severity of these charges, it’s important to consult with an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer right away.

Kidnapping: Definition and Defenses

The crime of kidnapping under Florida law is slightly different than false imprisonment.

Addressed in F.S. 787.01, kidnapping is defined as the forcibly, secretly or by threat abducting, confiding or imprisoning someone without his or her consent. So far, sounds just like false imprisonment. However, kidnapping also requires the intent to commit some other crime.

Yes, that can mean holding someone ransom for reward or as a hostage. But it can also mean simply with the intention to inflict bodily harm on or terrorize the victim.

Kidnapping is considered a more serious crime than false imprisonment. As a first-degree felony, it is generally punishable by a maximum of 30 years in prison. However, under certain circumstances, it can be considered a life felony, meaning someone convicted could potentially spend the rest of their life in prison.

This is especially relevant in cases where it is alleged a non-consensual sexual act occurred in the course of this crime.

If a firearm was used, the state’s 10/20/Life sentencing law will be applied. Also referred to as the “Three Strikes Law,” it imposes minimum mandatory sentences for firearm-related offenses. It increases the minimum mandatory penalty for certain felonies (kidnapping included) where an offender possesses a gun either during the commission of the crime or flight from it. If you pull the trigger, the sentence becomes a mandatory minimum 20 years in prison. And if you shoot someone – regardless of whether they die – it’s an automatic 25 years-to-life in prison.

These are not penalties you can afford to take lightly.

If you have been arrested for domestic violence or related offense in South Florida, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011.