Don't Be Guilty Of Unlawful Restraint Or Kidnapping

Posted on: 23 December 2014


You see it all the time in movies and TV shows: someone tricking or forcing someone to stay put in a place they don't want to be, or forced to go somewhere against their will. It usually turns out to be a joke a way to get someone to a bachelor(ette) party, or a misunderstanding, and all is eventually forgiven/forgotten. Even if it isn't forgiven, the crafty characters find a way to teach a character a lesson and stop their victim from talking. In real life, incidents like this often happen in an emotionally charged situations where rational thinking is hard to come by, and it ends up being a serious criminal or civil matter.

What Constitutes Unlawful Restraint

All the states have laws against holding someone captive against their will. This crime involves the following factors:

  • Intentionally detaining someone with physical confinement.

  • Detaining them with threats, physical restraint, physical aggression or force.

  • Detaining someone without legal authority to do so.

  • Detaining someone without their consent, and not giving them an option or way to leave.

You could restrain someone in an open space, if you have threatened to hurt them (or someone that they care about) if they leave, or you have given them some tangible reason to believe you would do so. It also doesn't matter if you only kept them confined for a short period of time.

What will happen if you are convicted

Some states have both misdemeanor and felony levels of unlawful restraint offenses. If you threatened physical violence or the person was in risk of physical harm, you will receive a felony charge. You could receive a year to fifteen years of prison time, or more if the victim was a child. Fines could be anywhere from a $1000 to $5.000 or more.

When Unlawful Restraint Turns Into Kidnapping

Unlawful restraint quickly turns into kidnapping if you force someone to move from one place to another without their consent.  Some states stipulate that this would be a long distance from the original starting point, but other states don't require very much movement at all to increase the charge from restraint to kidnapping. You may not intend for anything bad to happen, but these kind of things have a way of turning disastrous. If you were convicted of this crime, you can expect to spend decades in prison, especially if you took a child, or you assaulted the person.

When You Need Legal Counsel

If you are accused of unlawful restraint or kidnapping, you are going to need a criminal attorney to help you prepare a defense to these charges.