In Pennsylvania, Violent Crimes such as False Imprisonment occur if someone is detained or restrained without their consent. Violent crimes such as this are known as false imprisonment. Per the Pennsylvania crimes code, a person commits a false imprisonment if he knowingly restrains another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with his liberty. False imprisonment is commonly associated with crimes such as a bank robbery or a home invasion. The restrain does not have to be physical, it can be a threat. If an armed suspect broke into your home and told you to stay face down on the ground or else he will shoot you, that is false imprisonment. If you commit false imprisonment, you are committing a misdemeanor of the second degree. If you are found guilty, you face a possible penalty of up to two years imprisonment and/or fines up to $5,000. If the victim is a minor Assault Crimes and you are not the victim’s parent, you are committing a felony of the second degree. If found guilty, you could face a possible penalty of up to ten years imprisonment and/or fines up to $25,000. If the victim is a minor and you are the parent of the victim, you are still committing a felony of the second degree. This type of scenario is common when it comes to divorced or separated couples and their children. Ultimately, false imprisonment is not only a criminal wrong but also a civil wrong, so you can be charged both criminally and civilly.
There are certain circumstances in which imprisonment or detaining someone is appropriate. In Pennsylvania, there is a law known as Shopkeeper’s Privilege. Shopkeeper’s Privilege allows a peace officer, merchant, or merchant’s employee or agent under contract with a merchant to detain a retail patron who they have probable cause to believe that this person has committed a retail theft. During the duration of the time you are detained, the detainment must be done in a reasonable time and reasonable manner. There are several different purposes for why a merchant may detain you, including to require the suspect to identify himself, to determine whether such suspect has in his possession unpurchased merchandise from their store, Unlawful Restraint and if so, to recover stolen merchandise. Police may also be charged with false imprisonment. An example of this would be a police officer detaining someone without and justification. If you or someone you know is facing false imprisonment charges, it is best to meet with a criminal defense attorney regarding your case. A criminal defense attorney will guarantee that your case is receiving the best outcome possible.