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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Domestic Violence & False Imprisonment In Florida

Domestic Violence & False Imprisonment In Florida


Florida’s definition of domestic violence includes any criminal offense that results in “physical injury or death” to a victim that shares a certain relationship with the alleged perpetrator. The statute lists specific offenses as examples, and one of those listed is the crime of false imprisonment. Too often, this occurs in volatile domestic situations, but it is not prosecuted. If you are in this situation, it is crucial that you familiarize yourself with the specifics.

Criteria For A Crime

There are three main criteria one must establish in order to have a valid claim of false imprisonment: (1) intentional imprisonment of a person; (2) lack of consent on the part of that person; and (3) a lack of legal justification for holding the person. False imprisonment is similar in its legal requirements to kidnapping, except that kidnapping requires moving a victim from one location to another. These crimes are common in domestic dispute cases, but are often not prosecuted.

False imprisonment is a third-degree felony in Florida, which carries a sentence of up to 5 years in prison, plus time on probation and assorted court costs. If the defendant’s victim is a child under age 13, there will be additional penalties, but in most domestic violence cases, the victim is the defendant’s spouse, former spouse, or co-parent. That said, in Florida, the presence of domestic violence is used as a sentencing enhancement, meaning that more serious penalties may be possible.

May Face Civil & Criminal Penalties

Being charged with false imprisonment is serious, and you should devote all possible energies into contesting the charge. When viewed in the context of alleged domestic violence, false imprisonment looks particularly serious, given that a state’s attorney could easily argue that the intent was to get a victim into a place where further violence could be visited on them. That said, all three criteria must be proven against you, so casting reasonable doubt on even one of them can take the wind out of the prosecution’s proverbial sails.

Keep in mind, however, that even if you are found not guilty of criminal false imprisonment, Florida does allow an alleged victim to sue in civil court for the same offense. Civil lawsuits seek money damages, rather than to put anyone in prison, but have a lower burden of proof. If a plaintiff can establish that you falsely imprisoned them based on a preponderance of the evidence, you can be held civilly liable for what they have allegedly been through.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have been charged with committing false imprisonment in a domestic violence context, having the right attorney on your side can make sure that your rights are adequately protected. A West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help you navigate the legal process. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.



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