False Imprisonment of a Hostage – California Penal Code 210.5 PC
The serious felony crime of “false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest” is defined under California Penal Code 210.5.
This statute is closely related to the crime of “false imprisonment” defined under Penal Code 236, which criminalizes the act of unlawfully restraining or confining another person without their consent.
False imprisonment of a hostage to protect against an arrest includes a scenario where someone will grab and hold another person as a hostage to use them as a human shield, which clearly increases the victim's risk of harm.
The term “false imprisonment” means an unlawful violation of someone's personal liberty.
Penal Code 210.5 criminalizes the act of:
- Falsely imprisoning someone in order to use them as a human shield, or;
- To avoid an arrest;
- When the act increases the risk of harm to the victim
Example of false imprisonment of a hostage
Let's illustrate how someone could be charged with false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid an arrest.
Let's say somebody robs a liquor store at gunpoint. During the commission of the robbery, a customer in the rear of the store discreetly calls police.
Police officers arrive at the scene before the robber leaves the store. The suspect who has no desire to get arrested, grabs the store clerk and points a gun to his head.
At the same time, he yells at police who are standing near the entrance that if they come in the store, he will shoot the clerk.
In this example, the suspect could be charged with Penal Code 210.5, false imprisonment of a hostage, along with robbery under California Penal Code 211.
In order to give readers a better understanding of PC 210.5 false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest charges, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a review below.
What is the Definition of Penal Code 210.5?
False imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest is defined by California Penal Code 210.5:
- Any person who commits the crime of false imprisonment under Penal Code 236, against a person for the purposes of protection from arrest that significantly increases the risk of harm to the victim, or to use them a shield.”
False imprisonment is the unlawful violation of someone's personal liberty. In other words, you violate the PC 236 false imprisonment law in a situation where you detain, restrain, or confine another person without their consent.
Both Penal Code 210.5 and Penal Code 236 are similar to California laws on kidnapping under Penal Code 207, but in order to be convicted of kidnapping, you must move the victim a substantial distance.
If you just restrain or hold someone against their will, without moving them to another location, it's a violation of California's false imprisonment laws.
What Must the Prosecutor Prove to Obtain a PC 210.5 Conviction?
In order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction for violating Penal Code 210.5, false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest, they have to be able to prove all the crucial factors of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
These factors are commonly known as the “elements of the crime” and listed in CALCRIM 1241 Jury Instructions:
- Defendant was facing a threat or risk of imminent arrest, and;
- Restrained or confined another person using force or threats of force;
- Had intent protect themselves against the threat of imminent arrest;
- Forced the victim stay or go somewhere against their will, and either;
- Substantially increased risk of harm to victim when restrained or detained, or
- Had intent to use the victim as a human shield
The felony penalties for a violation of Penal Code 210.5, false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest include three, five, or eight years in a California state prison.
It should be noted there are some sentencing enhancements that could add additional time in prison. For instance, if a victim sustains great bodily injury (GBI) during the act of false imprisonment, then a defendant could be facing an additional six years in state prison.
This additional sentencing time is known as the “great bodily injury enhancement” defined under California Penal Code 12022.7.
What are the Related California Offenses for PC 210.5?
- Penal Code 236 PC – False imprisonment
- Penal Code 664/210.5 PC – Attempt False Imprisonment of Hostage
- Penal Code 209 PC – Kidnapping
- Penal Code 211 PC – Robbery
- Penal Code 4502 PC – Holding a Hostage
How Can I Fight Penal Code 210.5 Charges?
If you were accused of violating California Penal Code Section 210.5, false imprisonment of a hostage, our Los Angeles criminal lawyers will closely review all the circumstances and evidence in order to develop a strategy to obtain the best outcome on your case.
Some common defenses include:
You didn't use force
Depending on the details, we might make a reasonable argument that you didn't use force to restrain or confine the alleged victim which is one of the factors listed in the elements of the crime.
No imminent threat of arrest
Maybe we could make the argument you weren't facing a threat of imminent arrest. This defense could apply even in a scenario when you actually restrained or confined the victim.
Lack of intent to protect yourself
It might be possible to make a reasonable argument you had to intent to protect yourself by restraining the victim, or even argue you didn't force them against their will. Again, these factors are part of what the prosecutor must prove for a conviction.
Didn't increase risk of harm
Finally, it might be possible to prove you didn't increase the risk of physical or emotional harm to the victim, or perhaps we could show you had no intent to use them as a human shield.
California Penal Code 210.5, false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid an arrest, is a serious felony offense with significant penalties.
Contact Cron, Israels & Stark if Charged with a Crime
Early intervention and negotiation with the prosecutor by or law firm can make a dramatic impact on the outcome of your case. It might be possible to get the charges reduced or even dismissed altogether.
Through pre-filing intervention, we might be able to avoid the formal filing on criminal charges in the first place. Our attorneys need to first review the details of your case to develop a strategy.
Cron, Israels & Stark is a criminal defense law firm that has team of highly experienced lawyers with a record of success. We serve clients throughout all Southern California Courthouses, including LA County, Ventura County, and the San Fernando Valley.
Our main office is located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We are also located at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Contact our office for a free case consultation at (424) 372-3112.