Understanding False Imprisonment as Domestic Violence
Many people are surprised to learn how many various actions come under the classification of domestic violence. Commonly reported crimes, such as assault or stalking, easily come to mind. But false imprisonment is another act of domestic violence that the victim may not even recognize.
Under the Florida Criminal Code, false imprisonment occurs when a person “acting without legal authority to do so, forcibly, secretly or by threat either confined, abducted, imprisoned or restrained the victim against the victim’s will.” If this sounds like kidnapping, that is because they are similar offenses, but driven by differing types of intent. While kidnapping may occur with the intention of causing bodily harm or extorting money, the intent behind false imprisonment is to confine the victim and prohibit her from exercising her right to move freely.
False imprisonment often goes unreported because victims do not realize that it even occurred. The offender does not have to bind your extremities or hold you at gunpoint to commit false imprisonment. A seemingly inoffensive act may constitute false imprisonment, depending on the surrounding circumstances. Some possible examples include:
- – A girlfriend locking her boyfriend inside of a bedroom without his consent;
- – A husband standing in front of the door and not allowing his wife to leave;
- – An individual threatening the well-being of a pet if their mate leaves the home;
- – The father of a woman’s child forces her into a car by implying that he has a gun in his pocket; and
- – A woman forcefully grabs the arm of her paramour to keep him from leaving the room.
When these actions occur between family or household members, the false imprisonment is further classified as an act of domestic violence.
What the Law Says
The Florida statute considers false imprisonment as a violent crime and classifies it as a third degree felony. Individuals convicted of this offense can receive a maximum punishment of up to five years imprisonment and $5,000 in additional fines. These hefty penalties exemplify the seriousness of this often-overlooked offense.
Under state law, family and household members include:
- – Parents and children (by blood, marriage or court order);
- – Spouses (current and former);
- – Persons living in the same household and participating in a domestic relationship;
- – Adult relatives living in the same home;
- – Individuals with a living child in common;
- – Siblings; and
- – Grandparents and grandchildren.
If you have been the victim of domestic violence, including false imprisonment, the most important step is finding safety. Once you are safe, an attorney can assist you with obtaining an order of protection or a restraining order. These court documents can prohibit the offender from contacting you and possibly force him or her to leave the shared home.
Your life and safety are non-negotiable and no one has the right to falsely imprison you. Contact the attorneys of Vanessa L. Prieto, LLC for assistance with your domestic violence case and the family law issues that may accompany it. Located in Fort Lauderdale, our office serves Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. Call the office today to schedule an appointment.