Georgia Code Section 16-5-41 defines false imprisonment as confining or detaining a person or persons against their personal liberty without a legal basis or authority. It can be easy to accuse someone of false imprisonment in Georgia due to its broad definition. Conviction of this crime could result in imprisonment for a minimum of one year to a maximum of 10 years, as well as hefty fines. If the victim is under the age of 14, the courts could find the defendant guilty of a sexual offense – even if the defendant had no intent to commit a sexual crime.
When Might Someone Accuse You of False Imprisonment?
False imprisonment is not the same as kidnapping, although the two share similar traits. Kidnapping is a more serious crime, as it must involve the perpetrator moving the victim somewhere else. False imprisonment, on the other hand, only deals with detaining or confining the victim. While many different situations could lead to a false imprisonment accusation, below are some of the most common scenarios:
- Domestic dispute situations. One spouse accusing another of false imprisonment is a common occurrence in Georgia. Something as simple as refusing to move your car so your spouse can’t leave could constitute false imprisonment.
- Threatening behaviors. Someone could potentially accuse you of false imprisonment even if you didn’t physically restrain him or her. Intimidation or the threat of harm if that person leaves could be enough to qualify as a crime.
- Actions by security guards or enforcement officers. False imprisonment is one of the most common allegations against enforcers of the law. Detaining someone for questioning for an “unreasonable” amount of time is illegal in Georgia.
For the courts to find you guilty, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a willful detention of the alleged victim, you did not have the victim’s consent, and the detention was unlawful. This is a large burden of proof you can use to your advantage with the right defense attorney. Retain a criminal defense lawyer immediately if you believe someone is accusing you of false imprisonment.
How to Fight a False Imprisonment Charge in Georgia
Due to the broad definition and relative subjectivity of false imprisonment, this is one of the most frequent wrongfully accused crimes. To prove a defendant’s guilt, the prosecution must show compelling evidence that the victim really believed he or she could not leave without retaliation. If you have no history of domestic abuse or violence, for example, it could be difficult for your spouse to prove he or she truly thought you would retaliate if he/she left. It is up to your attorney to argue the charges brought against you.
As a criminal defendant in a false imprisonment case, it’s not your duty to prove that you’re innocent. Instead, it’s the prosecutor’s duty to prove that you’re guilty. This is an important distinction; the prosecution is the party with the burden of proof, not you. Refuting the evidence against you could be all you need to achieve positive results. Maximize your odds of the best possible outcome with help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Several potential defenses could work in your favor during a false imprisonment case. You might be able to prove you had the victim’s voluntary consent or that you qualified for a police privilege or shopkeeper’s privilege when you detained the individual. If you were making a citizen’s arrest, you might also be not guilty of false imprisonment. Circumstances are an important aspect in such cases. A conversation with a Savannah defense lawyer can help you identify the potential defenses in your particular case.