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False Imprisonment

Garcia Law Group > False Imprisonment

False Imprisonment PC 236


False imprisonment is a serious crime that has severe repercussions if convicted. Under California Penal Code Section 236 PC, false imprisonment is the willful and intentional act of restraining, holding, or imprisoning someone without their consent. False imprisonment may sound a lot like kidnapping, but false imprisonment is a different crime.


False imprisonment can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the accusation and the situation. For somebody charged with a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge, California Penal Code Section 237 (a) PC states that a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements of the criminal act.




First, the defendant must have intentionally and unlawfully detained, restrained, or otherwise confined another person. Secondly, the defendant must have forced the victim to stay or go somewhere against the victim’s will. This includes grabbing someone, preventing them from leaving a room, or locking the doors.


To prove a false imprisonment felony charge, prosecutors must establish two more criteria that are more specific than the misdemeanor charge. This is located under California Penal Code Section 236 PC


Please refer to this web page for more information on the California Penal Code, Section 236 PC.


First, the defendant must have unlawfully and intentionally detained, restrained, or otherwise confined a person by using force, violence, or menace. Secondly, the defendant must have made the victim go somewhere or stay somewhere without their consent.


As used in this section, violence means using physical strength or force that is more than the force that would be necessary to restrain a person. Essentially, violence in this circumstance means force in excess. Menace means the threat of physical harm, verbally or physically. The threat of violence or harm does not need to be explicitly stated by the defendant, it needs to be implied or expressed.


Contrary to what many people may think, false imprisonment, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, does not require that the victim was imprisoned in an actual prison or jail. It simply means that a person was kept against their will through the threat of violence or otherwise.


A crucial part of a false imprisonment case is the use of force. A prosecutor must prove that the defendant used force for the court to convict the defendant of a misdemeanor or felony charge. However, violence is only required for a felony charge conviction.


Many people read the California Penal Code and believe that false imprisonment falls under the same category as kidnapping, but kidnapping is an entirely different crime. Typically, false imprisonment is a much shorter timespan than the crime of kidnapping.




There are also a variety of different defenses against false imprisonment charges, such as when consent is given by the alleged victim.


For example, if a person consents to be held in a certain place for a certain amount of time, then the person who held them there is not criminally liable for that action. This is particularly salient when a person has paid for a service as such where they need to be contained.


Another important note about false imprisonment is that children have specific limitations in their rights. Parents and legal guardians have the right to “falsely imprison” a child as an act of behavior management or disciplinary action.


This means that a child cannot prosecute their parents for being grounded or put in a time-out. This also means that the state of California cannot prosecute parents who ground their children.




If a person is convicted of a false imprisonment charge, there are different penalties in sentences given out. Misdemeanor charges and felony charges have different sentencing and different types of penalties.


A person convicted of a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge can be sentenced to one year in prison, court fines or fees, and other probationary requirements or services. A person convicted of a felony false imprisonment charge can be sentenced to up to three years in prison.


Even though the law clearly states which types of charges are misdemeanors and which ones are felonies, it is important to make sure that everyone understands the difference between the scenarios of a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge in a felony false imprisonment charge.


An example of a felony false imprisonment charge would be a disgruntled employee who enters an office and holds the person inside without the person’s consent. The employee would also need to imply or explicitly state that they have the intention of harming the person in the office. This would likely be prosecuted for felony false imprisonment charges due to the threat or implication of physical violence.


An example of a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge would be a set of friends arguing over who gets to drive somewhere. During the argument, one of the friends grabs the other friend’s arm and holds them to prevent them from getting in the car or walking away. This would be a misdemeanor charge because there was no implication or explicit threat of physical violence. The force is greater than is necessary, but it is still minimal in the situation.


There are several related offenses to false imprisonment in the state of California. The three criminal acts most closely associated or confused with false imprisonment are kidnapping, false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest and violations of California’s child abduction law.


Kidnapping is different from false imprisonment due to technicalities in the wording. Kidnapping is defined in California Penal Code Section 207, which is a crime where the kidnapper moves the victim a large or substantial distance. They move the victim such a distance using fear, force, or the implication of violence to do so.


False imprisonment does not require that the defendant move the victim a substantial distance. False imprisonment can occur in one spot.


False imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest is a crime under California Penal Code Section 210.5. Penal Code states that false imprisonment of a hostage is the criminal act where a person or group of people falsely imprison another person or people to avoid being arrested. False imprisonment of a hostage also includes using another human being as a human shield against police or weapons.


False imprisonment of a hostage is very closely related to false imprisonment, and often they can be charged together against the defendant. These charges can come together when the defendant has committed a misdemeanor or felony false imprisonment and falsely imprisoned another person as a human shield or to resist an arrest in the same criminal act.


Lastly, the difference between California’s child abduction law and false imprisonment. California’s child abduction law is located under California Penal Code Section 278 and states that it is a crime to take a child away from their legal guardian or parents with malicious intent and no legal right of custody over the child.


Similar to false imprisonment charges, child abduction can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the crime. The penalties and sentencing given to a child abduction defendant with a conviction will differ based on whether the charges are misdemeanors or felonies.


Many people who are victims of false imprisonment choose to sue their attacker. False imprisonment is a criminal offense and it is also a tort under California state law. This means that it may lead to a civil lawsuit, where a person sues another to recover the damages inflicted by false imprisonment.




Appearing in front of a judge by yourself can be an intimidating experience. Additionally, the laws are complicated. If you are facing a criminal case, Garcia Law Group is here to help you. We’ve handled hundreds of cases and represented individuals in your situation. We are here to help you get through this stressful situation.



Call now and speak to attorney Joel Garcia for a FREE CONSULTATION.



Related offenses

Dissuading a Witness PC 136.1

Domestic Violence PC 273.5

Domestic Violence PC 243(e)(1)

Extortion PC 518

Stalking PC 646.9

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