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False Imprisonment

False Imprisonment is not the kind of crime that one immediately recognizes. It can often be fairly indistinguishable from other types of violent crimes such as battery or kidnapping.

Under Florida law, the essence of false imprisonment is the act of depriving the alleged victim of personal liberty or freedom of movement for any length of time.

Some examples of false imprisonment can include the following: preventing a family member from leaving a room during an argument, grabbing someone in a “bear hug” to prevent them from walking away, or not letting an elderly person leave a nursing home.


Attorney for False Imprisonment in Pensacola, Florida

John Terrezza has dedicated his entire career to the pursuit of justice for criminal defendants. A Florida native, Mr. Terrezza returned to Pensacola and now fights for clients with cases in Escambia County and Santa Rosa County in the Florida Panhandle. He also takes federal cases and is admitted to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

If you or someone you know has been charged with false imprisonment, (sometimes called wrongful imprisonment), in Pensacola, Florida, call John Terrezza to get the help you need.

John Terrezza has a wide array of experience in fighting felony charges for crimes of violence in courtrooms throughout Pensacola and the surrounding areas.

Call (850) 764-5291 to schedule an appointment or submit for a free evaluation.


Elements of False Imprisonment under Florida Statute §787.02

Under Florida Statute §787.02, to be convicted of false imprisonment the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant forcibly restrained confined, abducted, or imprisoned another person by force or threat of force, against their will, and without lawful authority.

Moreover, the Florida Criminal Jury Instructions for the crime of false imprisonment define “secretly” to mean that the defendant intended to isolate another person from meaningful connection or contact with the public.

False imprisonment should be distinguished from the more serious crime of kidnapping since these crimes are different offenses under distinct statutes.


Aggravated False Imprisonment in Florida

When the victim is a child, the elements of the crime are slightly different. Confining a child against his or her will is considered false imprisonment if the confinement is without the parent or legal guardian’s consent.

False imprisonment is classified as “Aggravated False Imprisonment” when the defendant is found guilty of false imprisonment, and the prosecutor also proves beyond a reasonable doubt that, at the time of the false imprisonment the child was under 13 years old, and in the course of committing the false imprisonment the defendant committed any of the following:


Punishment for False Imprisonment in Florida

False imprisonment is charged as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.

Aggravated false imprisonment of a child under thirteen (13) years old, in Florida, comes with far more serious penalties.

If the false imprisonment offense is classified as aggravated false imprisonment, then the crime may be charged as a first-degree felony that is punishable by up to life in prison.


Civil Claims in Florida for False Imprisonment

In addition to the criminal penalties, the person claiming false imprisonment could sue for monetary damages in a tort claim.

A civil claim, in Florida, for false imprisonment requires an intentional restraint, under circumstances that were unreasonable, unwarranted, and without legal authority that caused harm.

In a civil claim, the term “intentional restraint” means that the defendant’s actions purposefully restrained the claimant, and the defendant acted with the knowledge that such restraint would, to a substantial certainty, result from the act.

Restrained is defined as being held against your will and without consent. In other words, a person is restrained when he or she is not free to leave and does not reasonably believe that he or she is free to leave. Restraint would be without “lawful authority” if the defendant did not act under color of law or claim of lawful authority.

Under the civil statute, probable cause and arrest under a warrant are complete defenses.


Additional Resources

False Imprisonment under § 787.02 –Visit Online Sunshine, the official website of the Florida State Legislature to find the Florida Statute for False Imprisonment and more information about the elements and charges.

“Double Offenses” - Problems in Kidnapping and False Imprisonment Cases – Visit the website of the Florida Bar Journal to learn more about the differences between kidnapping and false imprisonment, and when a defendant could go to jail for one or both offenses. The article explains why false imprisonment is a lesser-included offense of kidnapping. The article gives examples of the kinds of things that have been considered false imprisonment or kidnapping.


Finding an Attorney for False Imprisonment Attorney in Escambia County, Florida

False Imprisonment is a unique crime with life-changing repercussions under Florida law. If you or someone you know in Escambia County or Santa Rosa County, FL, has been charged with false imprisonment, contact John Terrezza.

Call (850) 764-5291 to make an appointment and discuss the case with John Terrezza at his offices conveniently located in Pensacola, FL.

During the consultation, you can learn more about the elements of the offense, the potential penalties, and the best defenses available for fighting the criminal prosecution. Also, learn more about the difference between false imprisonment and the more serious felony offense of kidnapping.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, December 7, 2016.

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