Unlawful imprisonment refers to detaining someone without any legal authority or against that person’s will. It occurs when an individual prevents a person from leaving a room, vehicle, house or any other area. There are two types of unlawful imprisonment in New York Penal Law. The first one involves unlawful imprisonment in the first degree. The other one is unlawful imprisonment in the second degree. A person is said to be guilty of unlawful imprisonment in the first degree when he restrains someone under circumstances that expose the latter to the risk of a serious physical harm. Unlawful imprisonment in the first degree is a class E felony and attracts up to four years in prison. The word restrain in the Penal Law is defined as intentionally and unlawfully retracting the movement of another person against his will.
Example of Unlawful Imprisonment in the First Degree
Ruth, a resident of Manhattan, went to a club on a Friday evening to relax after a long week of hard work. While she was sitting alone at the corner of the restaurant, a young man approached him. His name was Donald. He introduced himself and the two quickly got used to each other. They talked for several hours, joking and laughing about their workmates and life. Donald then invited Ruth to accompany him to his house and she agreed. They arrived at the house, cooked some food and watched a movie. Ruth woke up early the next morning and told Donald she wanted to go back to her house. Donald quickly locked the door and told her to stay until Monday. Ruth did not agree and decided to force herself out. Donald reached for a gun and threatened to shoot her if she persisted. Ruth waited until Donald was in the bathroom and jumped out though the balcony, injuring herself in the process.
This is a classic case of unlawful imprisonment in the first degree. Donald could be charged with wrongfully detaining Ruth and causing her to sustain injuries.
Defenses to the Penal Code
A prosecutor must show that you indeed imprisoned someone without his or her will and that the person was actually unable to leave. The prosecutor will do some research on his own to determine the facts surrounding the incident. This may involve interviewing the victim to get his side of the story or requesting for surveillance footage of the place.
There are many ways you can defend yourself against such accusations. For instance, if you locked someone in a room with an open window, you may have a valid defense against a charge of unlawful detention. You can also defend yourself by convincing the judge that the victim was not in any danger of a serious physical injury at that time. For example, if you pointed a gun at the person to prevent him from leaving, but the gun was actually a toy, you may have some valid defense.
Hiring a Lawyer
Defending yourself against unlawful imprisonment charge is your basic right. However, it is unwise to go at it alone due to several legal risks and obstacles present. You need to hire a NYC criminal lawyer to help protect your rights and create a strong defense. A lawyer has studied and trained in understanding every aspect of criminal law in New York. He knows the right approach to take to help you win the case and protect you against heavy penalties.
Before you hire a lawyer, make sure he has several years of experience dealing with unlawful imprisonment cases. Also, make sure he has a high rate of success in his works.