False Imprisonment in Florida

False imprisonment is the unlawful confining or restraining of another person against his or her will. False imprisonment is one of the few charges that can result in criminal and civil liability.

Unlike kidnapping, false imprisonment simply requires restricting another person's freedom of movement. Such restriction could involve something as simple as an unwanted tight embrace or something as extreme as locking someone in a bedroom after an argument.

The Florida Statutes make false imprisonment a lesser-included offense of kidnapping, which means that if an individual is charged with kidnapping, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be to get the charges reduced to false imprisonment.

Attorney for False Imprisonment Charges in West Palm Beach, FL

If you or someone you know has been charged with false imprisonment, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney before speaking to any law enforcement official. False imprisonment, even though it is a lesser-included offense of kidnapping, is still a serious criminal offense.

At Meltzer & Bell, P.A. we are dedicated defense attorneys who will diligently represent your interest in Florida courts and fight for your best defense.

Call (561) 557-8686 now to set up a consultation. Our office represents clients in Palm Beach County, both in Florida state court in West Palm Beach and at the Paul G. Rogers Federal Courthouse. We can also represent you if you are charged in Broward County or Miami-Dade County.

Call (561) 557-8686 now to set up a consultation to learn more about our legal services and how we will fight for your best possible defense.

Elements of Florida False Imprisonment under § 787.02 F.S.

To convict an individual of false imprisonment under Florida Statute § 787.02, the prosecution must show the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. that the defendant either,
    1. imprisoned
    2. confined
    3. restrained or
    4. abducted
  2. the victim against his or her will; and
  3. the defendant had no lawful authority to do so.

False Imprisonment and Lawful Authority

The last element of false imprisonment under Fla. Stat. § 787.02, states that "the defendant had no lawful authority to do so." Thus, the person being accused of false imprisonment had no lawful authority to confine, restrain, or abduct the victim.

In circumstances where law enforcement is involved, false imprisonment charges do not generally apply. If an on duty police officer has probable cause to effectuate a stop, then he or she has the "lawful authority" to confine or restrain that individual.

In addition, false imprisonment issues often arise in retail theft situations. Under Florida law, merchants that have reason to believe that an individual has stolen something from their store may temporarily and reasonably prevent the accused person from leaving the store until law enforcement arises.

Aggravated False Imprisonment

Aggravated false imprisonment in Florida involves unlawful sexual activities against a minor. The prosecutor must show, beyond a reasonable doubt that, at the time of the false imprisonment, the child was under age thirteen (13) and that the defendant was guilty of any of the following:

  • a lewd or lascivious battery, molestation, conduct, or exhibition;
  • an act of sexual battery against the child;
  • an act of forcing, compelling, or coercing another to become a prostitute upon the child;
  • an act of procuring a child for prostitution;
  • an exploitation of a child upon the victim; or
  • an act of aggravated child abuse;
  • an act of human trafficking for commercial sexual activity, in which the victim is a child under eighteen (18), a mentally defective person, or a mentally incapacitated person.

Civil Claims for False Imprisonment

False imprisonment is one of the few criminal charges that can also subject an individual to civil liability as well. A victim of false imprisonment may file suit against a defendant to recover monetary damages.

A civil suit for false imprisonment requires the victim to show that he or she was intentionally restrained in an unwanted and unreasonable way, and without the legal authority to do so. Additionally, the restraint must have caused some harm to the victim in order for him or her to recover damages.

In Florida, intentional restraint requires knowledge. Thus, the defendant must have purposefully retrained the victim with the knowledge or substantial certainty that the restraint would cause harm.

Similar to the criminal statute, having the lawful authority to restrain a victim is a complete defense to civil liability for false imprisonment.

Additional Resources

False Imprisonment § 787.02 Fla. Stat. – Visit Online Sunshine, the official website of the Florida Legislature to find the full statutory language of the Florida statute for false imprisonment, along with elements and penalties for conviction.

"Double Offenses" Problems in Kidnapping and False Imprisonment Cases – Visit the Florida Bar Journal website for more information on the differences between kidnapping and false imprisonment. This article discusses false imprisonment as a lesser-included offense of kidnapping and how the Florida legislature has dealt with the differences.

Find a Lawyer for False Imprisonment in Broward County, FL

In Florida and in many other jurisdictions, false Imprisonment is often confused with kidnapping. If you or someone you know has been charged with false imprisonment in Miami or West Palm Beach, Florida, then contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A..

Our attorneys have years of experience fighting for the rights of people accused of crimes. We take cases throughout West Palm Beach and in the surrounding areas of Palm Beach County, Miami-Dade and Broward County, Florida.

Call (561) 557-8686 for more information about our consultations our criminal legal services.

This article was last updated on Wednesday, July 12, 2017.

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