False Imprisonment Law – California Penal Code 236

The crime of “false imprisonment” is described under California Penal Code 236. A false imprisonment charge can be filed against you in a situation where you unlawfully deprive someone of their personal liberty. This essentially means intentionally detaining another person without a legal right to do so, and they aren’t allowed to leave when they want to. This would be considered falsely imprisoned.

Penal Code 236 false imprisonment is similar to Penal Code 207 kidnapping charges. However, a kidnapping charge requires moving someone a substantial distance. When someone is simply held or restrained against their will, it’s a false imprisonment offense.

Our criminal defense lawyers have seen a wide range of situations where individuals have been charged with PC 236 false imprisonment. For example, these criminal charges are common in domestic violence incidents. For instance, during a heated confrontation, a husband might grab his wife to prevent her from leaving the home.

Another Penal Code 236 false imprisonment offense includes a situation where married couples are riding in a car and become involved in a heated argument. The wife, wanting to get away from the argument asks to be let out of the vehicle. The husband refuses and continues with the confrontation. In this scenario, this act could be considered the crime of false imprisonment.

It should be noted that PC 236 false imprisonment can be charged when confinement, detention, or restraint only lasted for a short amount of time.

It’s also important to note that while a false imprisonment charge is not considered as serious as a kidnapping charge, it is still a serious offense that can carry harsh penalties.

Penal Code 236 false imprisonment is a California “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony crime, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.

To give readers a better understanding of false imprisonment law described under Penal Code 236, our California criminal defense attorneys are providing an overview below.

Definition of Penal Code 236 False Imprisonment

California Penal Code Section 236 defines false imprisonment as the unlawful violation of the personal liberty of someone else. To violate someone’s person’s liberty means a sustained restriction of their freedom using violence, duress, fraud, deceit.

It also includes using a threat of unlawful injury in circumstances where someone receiving the threat reasonably believes the person making the threat has the ability to carry it out.

In order for the prosecutor to convict you of misdemeanor a false imprisonment charge, they must be able to prove all the elements of the crime listed under CALCRIM 1242 Jury Instructions:

  • You intentionally and unlawfully detained, restrained, or confined someone
  • Your act made someone stay or go somewhere against their will

An act is done against someone’s will if that person didn’t consent to the act freely and voluntarily and knew the nature of the act.

Penalties for Penal Code 236 False Imprisonment

If convicted of Penal Code 236 false imprisonment, it’s normally a misdemeanor offense that carries up to one year in a county jail, and fine up to $1,000.

However, you could face felony false imprisonment charges, see CALCRIM 1240, if violence, menace, fraud, or deceit was used in the restraint.  Menace is the threat of violence, but doesn’t always have to be verbal threats, but could be implied by your behavior.

If convicted of a PC 236 felony crime, you are facing up to three years in a California state prison, and a fine up to $10,000.

It should be noted that if the victim was elderly or dependent, the sentence could increase to four years. If the false imprisonment case was associated with the benefit of a criminal street gang, you could be facing a 15 year to life enhancement described under California Penal Code 186.22.

If a gun was used in your PC 236 false imprisonment case, then 10 years could be added to the sentence. If the gun was discharged, then you could have 25 years added to sentence.

Related California Crime for PC 236 False Imprisonment

Penal Code 207 – Kidnapping
Penal Code 209.5 – Kidnapping during carjacking
Penal Code 210.5 – False imprisonment of a hostage
Penal Code 215 – Carjacking
Penal Code 278 – Child abduction
Penal Code 368 – Elder abuse
Penal Code 422 – Criminal threats

Fighting PC 236 False Imprisonment Charges

Our criminal defense lawyers could develop a wide range of strategies to defend you against false imprisonment charges in violation of Penal Code 236.

We might be able to argue the alleged victim was there voluntarily. If we can show you didn’t force the victim to remain, or there was no restraint against their will, then you have a good chance at avoiding a conviction for false imprisonment.

We could argue your actions were in good faith, such as the restraint of the victim was because of a reasonable belief the victim might endanger themselves or other people. For example, perhaps the victim had been making comments about committing suicide or harming others.

We might be able to argue the allegations against you are false. Perhaps we could prove the accusations or false imprisonment are not based on facts and the accuser had other motives, such as revenge or jealously.

Another argument includes self-defense. We might be able to show the restraint of the victim was actually an act of self-defense or defending others and the force used was reasonable under the circumstances.

Crucial Details about PC 236 False Imprisonment Charges

False imprisonment is a “general intent” crime, meaning you don’t always have to intend to falsely imprison another person, but rather you deliberate actions caused them to be falsely imprisoned.

In other words, you don’t have to actually physically restrain another person to be found guilty of false imprisonment. You can also be charged with a felony false imprisonment even in a situation where you didn’t commit any violence on the victim.

In fact, if you caused the victim to have fear of potential violence due to your actions when they were attempting to leave the scene, you could be charged with a PC 236 felony crime. Also, could face felony charges if you restrained another person against their will using deceit or fraud.

If you or a family member has been accused of Penal Code 236 false imprisonment, our criminal defense attorneys will review your case in order to develop a strategy to obtain best possible outcome.

A conviction could result in life-altering consequences and you will need a law firm with experience dealing with these type of cases.

Cron, Israels & Stark is a team of highly experienced criminal defense lawyers located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Contact our office for a free case evaluation at (424) 372-3112.