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Tampa Attorney for False Imprisonment Charges

Under Florida law, false imprisonment is a serious felony offense. Under § 787.02, Fla. Stat., false imprisonment means that 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. This crime of violence is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Many of these cases involve fights between a husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend or former lovers. Many people are surprised to learn that false imprisonment may be completed by the simple momentary grasping of another person's arm. See Conner vs. State, 19 So.3d 1117 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 2009). Under Florida law, false imprisonment is a general intent crime encompassing all forms of unlawful restraints effected without the specific intents enumerated in Florida's kidnapping statute. Related offense include both aggravated battery and aggravated assault which can be charged as separate offenses.

The Faison test for determining whether a particular confinement or movement during the commission of another crime constitutes kidnapping, does not apply to false imprisonment. Sanders v. State, 905 So. 2d 271 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005).

If you have been arrested for false imprisonment in Tampa, Hillsborough County, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case. We represent clients in Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg or Clearwater, Pinellas County, Bartow, Polk County, and New Port Richey or Dade City, Pasco County, FL. Let us put our experience to work for you. We can begin your defense today.


Elements of False Imprisonment under Statute 787.02

Florida's False Imprisonment statute contains the following elements which must be proven at trial beyond all reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant acted secretly using force or the threat of force to restrain, imprison, confine, or abduct another person against his or her will.
  • The defendant had no lawful authority to commit the act.

In those false imprisonment cases in Florida that involve a child under the age of 13 years old, it is a defense to the crime that the confinement was with the approval or consent of the child's legal guardian or parent.

False imprisonment under Florida Statute Section 787.02(2) is a third degree felony when the restraining is with a purpose other than those listed in Section 787.01, This felony is categorized as Level 6 offense under the criminal guideline scoresheet with 36 points as the primary offense. If the offense is scored as an additional offense is scores an additional 18 points on the Florida Felony Scoresheet. If the offense is listed as a prior felony conviction when it would score 9 more points under the Florida sentencing guidelines.


Lesser Included Offenses to False Imprisonment

The Florida courts have determined that certain lesser offenses exist under the false imprisonment statute including:

  • attempted false imprisonment under Florida Statute Section 777.04(1),
  • battery under Florida Statute Section 784.03, and
  • assault under Florida Statute Section 784.011.

Additionally, false imprison is a necessary included lesser offense of the more serious crime of kidnapping under Florida Statute Section 787.01.


False Imprisonment Against a Child is Punishable by Life

Under certain circumstances, any act of false imprisonment committed against a child is punishable by life in prison as a first degree felony.

The enhanced penalties apply if the crime is allegedly committed against a child under the age of 13 years old when during the course of the false imprisonment the defendant commits one of the following offenses:

  • aggravated child abuse as defined under Florida Statute Section 827.03;
  • exploitation of a child or allowing a child to be exploited under Florida Statute Section 450.151
  • lewd or lascivious conduct,
  • lewd or lascivious battery,
  • lewd or lascivious exhibition,
  • lewd or lascivious molestation,
  • sexual battery as defined in Chapter 794; or
  • a crime of prostitution upon a child under Florida Statute Section 796.03 or 796.04.

If the offense is charged under Florida Statute Section 787.02(3)(a) then it is a first degree felony punishable by life (PBL) when it involves a child under age 13 and the perpetrator also commits aggravated child abuse, sexual battery, or lewd or lascivious battery, molestation, conduct, or exhibition. The offense is classified as a This felony is categorized as Level 9 offense under Florida's criminal guideline scoresheet.


Additional Resources

Section 787.02 for False imprisonment - Visit the website for the Florida legislature to read the entire statutory language of Title XLVI, Chapter 787.02 for False Imprisonment and False Imprisonment of a child under the age of 13 years old. Find information on the legislative history.

“Double Offense” Problem in Kidnapping and False Imprionment Cases - Visit the Florida Bar Journal to read an article by Richard Sanders dated in December of 2003 and last revised on February 10, 2012, discussing the well known “Double Offense” Problems in Kidnapping and False Imprisonment Cases. The “double offense” problem exists because these statutes define the constraint element of the offense so broadly that the type of constraint inherent in the commission of other offense often provides an additional offense of kidnapping or false imprisonment which dramatically increase the potential penalties and punishments for the offense.


Finding a Tampa Attorney for a False Imprisonment Charge

If you have been charged with False Imprisonment under Florida law, it is important to find an experienced and aggressive Tampa criminal defense attorney to represent you at every stage of the case. After the arrest, a prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office in Tampa, FL, will take only 21 days to make a filing decision.

Although the prosecutor making the filing decision will attempt to talk to all of the witnesses to the alleged offense, talk with the alleged victim and review the police reports, a criminal defense attorney is often in the best position to present the prosecutor with additional background information and exculpatory or favorable evidence.

Call an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your arrest for false imprisonment under Florida law throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, New Port Richey, Dade City, Bartow or Bradenton about possible defenses to fight this serious felony charge. Call 813-250-0500 to speak with an attorney in Tampa, HIllsborough County, FL, about the facts and circumstances of your case today.

This article was last updated by on Monday, June 8, 2015.