False Imprisonment Defense in Atlanta
False imprisonment is the crime of confining someone to a place against their will when you do not have the authority to do so. With very few exceptions, only police and corrections officers have the right to confine and detain people. False imprisonment charges often occur in the context of domestic violence cases or sexual assault cases, but there are other cases in which the defendant and the victim were not related and the defendant is not accused of anything except unlawfully detaining the victim. The Atlanta false imprisonment defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam can help you if you are facing criminal charges for false imprisonment.
Elements of a False Imprisonment Charge
Georgia Code 16.5.41 defines false imprisonment as detaining, confining, or arresting a person when you do not have the legal authority for this. The difference between false imprisonment and kidnapping is that kidnapping involves transporting the victim from one place to another against their will, while false imprisonment involves keeping them in one place. To prove that someone is guilty of false imprisonment, you must show that the defendant made it impossible for the victim to leave the closed space, such as by locking the door that could not be unlocked from the inside or by physically guarding the door and threatening physical violence if the victim tried to escape.
False imprisonment is a felony punishable by up to 14 years in prison. The penalties are even more severe if the defendant confined the victim for more than 12 hours or if the victim was a child under the age of 14.
It is Not a Citizen’s Arrest, it is False Imprisonment
In the past, many defendants claimed that the alleged false imprisonment was actually a citizen’s arrest. (A citizen’s arrest is when people who are not members of law enforcement detain a person they suspect of a crime until police arrive.) Georgia law no longer allows citizen’s arrest, except in the case of retail store employees detaining suspected shoplifters until police arrive. Therefore, citizen’s arrest is no longer a valid defense to a false imprisonment charge.
Defenses to Charges of False Imprisonment in GA
If you plead not guilty to false imprisonment charges, you can argue that the victim consented to stay in the place where you allegedly confined them and that they were actually free to leave and physically able to do so. You can also argue that you verbally told them to stay but did not physically prevent them from leaving. You can also argue that you did not intentionally confine them; maybe you did not know that they were in the confined space, or maybe you mistakenly thought that they had a key or access code to open the door or a phone to call someone to let them out.
False imprisonment is a serious criminal charge punishable by a long prison sentence. The criminal defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia can help you if you are facing criminal charges for false imprisonment.