The freedom to go where you want when you want is something that is cherished in society. Having it taken from you and being confined without the ability to freely come and go as you please is really frightening for people.
Of course, the idea of being detained or restrained against your will forms the basis for a series of laws that carry with them harsh punishments. Where is the line drawn, though, between legal detention and unlawful restraint? Read on to find out.
What Is Unlawful Restraint?
Unlawful restraint occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly restrains another without the legal justification to do so or without that person’s consent. Unlawful detention involves some type of intentional restraint.
Intent to Confine Someone
Intent is everything in these types of cases. A person cannot commit unlawful restraint without knowingly confining another person. Detention can result from lies, physical restraint, or verbal orders and may also involve threats of violence.
Detention and restraint become unlawful when a person doesn’t have the legal authority to confine the person in question. This distinction is left up to the court to decide.
Legal Authority to Detain
If a person is restrained by another who believes they have the legal authority to do so, a court can determine down the road that they did not have that authority and convict them of unlawful restraint.
It’s important to note that there is no time requirement for this crime. If someone is confined for just a few minutes, it is enough to qualify under the law as unlawful restraint.
And certainly, anyone who consents to be restrained cannot be unlawfully restrained. A victim must be unwilling, or the case cannot be brought against the person who restrained them.
The Inability to Leave
The final factor in unlawful restraint is the inability to leave. The person who was restrained must not have the ability to simply leave the area or it is not considered confinement.
Also, the person being restrained must be aware of a reasonable way to escape and be capable of taking action to do so, even if they don’t due to the threat of harm or violence.
Aggravated unlawful restraint can be charged if restraint was committed using a deadly weapon. It is a Class 3 felony.
The Penalties for Unlawful Restraint
If found guilty of unlawful restraint, it is a Class 4 felony. That is punishable by up to three years in prison and fines of as much as $25,000. There is also a mandatory one-year period of supervised release after prison or 30 months of probation.
For aggravated unlawful restraint, a Class 3 felony, the penalties are up to five years in prison and fines of $25,000. If certain elements exist in the crime, then the defendant may have to register as a sex offender.
Note that felony unlawful restraint is not a crime that can be expunged from a record. That means that it will be a part of a person’s permanent criminal record which can have an impact on career prospects and even housing, as it will be visible on background checks.
Unlawful Restraint: Is It Imprisonment?
Unlawful restraint is sometimes referred to as false imprisonment, but in most cases, false imprisonment is a civil offense and not a criminal one.
When you are charged in Illinois criminally, the state prosecutor files charges against you for the violation of the state’s criminal law. If found guilty of the crime, you can face severe penalties such as prison and fines.
However, being sued for false imprisonment in civil court means you do not face state criminal charges or penalties.
If a person accuses you of false imprisonment and it is found to be true in civil court, then you can face having to pay damages to the plaintiff but not jail or any other criminal penalty.
Have You Been Charged with Unlawful Restraint?
If you find yourself in a position where you are being charged for unlawful restraint, then it’s crucial to secure legal representation as soon as possible. The sooner you have an experienced attorney on your side, the sooner the circumstances of the case can be thoroughly investigated and a robust defense built.
Crimes such as unlawful restraint are all about intent and that’s why understanding the law and your rights under it are important to defend yourself against charges such as these. Facing any type of criminal charge is scary, but with knowledge of the law on your side, you have to power to protect yourself.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.