What is Unlawful Imprisonment and What Are the Consequences

what is unlawful imprisonmentIf you ever restrain a person without giving them the chance to leave on their own free will, you will be committing unlawful imprisonment. Unlawful imprisonment is a criminal act in Arizona, much like it is in the rest of the country. People found guilty of this crime could face serious penalties, as well as the creation of a criminal record that will remain visible in the years to come.Arizona Unlawful Imprisonment Definition and Laws

According to Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1303, a person will commit unlawful imprisonment whenever they knowingly restrain another human being.

Under Arizona regulations, unlawful imprisonment is a Class 6 felony unless the victim gets voluntarily released by the defendant. If a voluntary release occurs and the victim does not experience physical harm, unlawful imprisonment is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Only two exceptions exist to the definition and the rules as described in A.R.S. 13-1303:

  • A peace or a detention officer is in charge of the restraining process and the only purpose is to assume lawful custody of a person
  • A person is being restrained (without being harmed) by a relative for the sole purpose of assuming lawful custody

These are the only two exceptions in which a person is not going to face criminal charges and prosecution. As you probably understand already, however, these exceptions leave some room for interpretation and potential legal complications.

Penalties for Unlawful Imprisonment

The misdemeanor charges come with less severe penalties. A Class 1 misdemeanor carries a prison sentence of up to six months and a fine of 2,500 dollars. there will also be up to three years of probation. Repeat offenders can expect to face more serious consequences.

If a victim is not released voluntarily and without physical harm, the perpetrator will be charged with a Class 6 felony. The penalties include up to two years in prison. For a second-time offender, the prison sentence will be in the range from nine months to 2.75 years. Third-time offenders will have to spend at least 2.25 years in prison and the sentence cannot exceed 5/75 years.

The prosecution will always look for aggravating factors and additional charges like kidnapping or assault. Cases that involve fraud and violence will usually be the ones that feature the strictest sanctions.

Defense Scenarios

If you’re charged with unlawful imprisonment, you’ll need to get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Your Arizona lawyer will give you a better idea about your rights and they’ll suggest a course of action that will keep you from self-incrimination.

Next, your attorney will examine the specifics of the case. Based on the circumstances, the right defense scenario will be chosen.

Unlawful imprisonment charges are common in domestic disputes and they can accompany domestic violence charges. In such situations, the court will have to look at the custody arrangement and whether one parent had the right to be with the children at the respective moment.

Whenever you are the relative of a person that’s being unlawfully imprisoned, your lawyer will try to prove that the sole purpose of the restraint was to assume lawful custody. This is another common possibility in the case of domestic disputes and during divorce proceedings.

Police officers that have been charged with unlawful imprisonment will need to demonstrate that they were acting in good faith and in an attempt to lawfully perform their professional duties.

There is one final special provision that may apply to Arizona unlawful imprisonment cases. A store owner or an employee at a retail venue has the right to detain a person if they have reasonable cause to believe the respective person was shoplifting. In such instances, restraining the individual until law enforcement professionals arrive at the venue is permissible by law.

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