In Arizona, intentionally detaining a person against their will or preventing them from leaving a residence or a vehicle is against the law. According to A.R.S. §13-1303, unlawful imprisonment is a criminal offense. There are many different scenarios that meet the criteria of illegal detention in the Phoenix Metro area or in the rest of the State of Arizona. If you have been charged with this felony, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Punishment for Unlawful Imprisonment Conviction
In most situations involving restraining a person, unlawful imprisonment is a class six felony. However, if the defendant voluntarily releases the victim into a safe place and the victim is not physical harmed, when the defendant is apprehended and arrested, he may be charged with a class one misdemeanor. The class one misdemeanor has a variety of punishments. There is a fine of $2,500, probation for up to three years, and a jail sentence of zero days to six months in jail. A defendant can be sentenced under one or all of these sentencing guidelines.
If the victim of the illegal detention was not released into a safe environment or has suffered some physical injuries, the only possible charge is a class 6 felony. However, if you are a first-time offender of any felony, you may not see any jail time at all. With this type of criminal offense, you can get probation or up to one year in jail. On the other hand, you could also face a minimum of four months and a maximum of up to two years in prison.
For defendants with a prior felony conviction, the punishment is more severe. You can face a minimum of nine months in prison and a maximum of up to two years and nine months in prison. For defendants who have two or more felony convictions, the minimum sentence is two years and three months with a maximum of five years and nine months in prison.
Defenses to Unlawful Imprisonment
For defendants facing this felony charge, there are two statutory defenses available. In the first defense, the defendant is related to the victim and took the person to assume lawful custody. With the defense, the victim must not be physically harmed. Most cases with this type of defense involve a parent taking a child. This scenario usually occurs during a divorce, after a divorce, or during a contentious custody battle.
The second defense only relates to police officers. In this scenario, a police officer restrained a person during the course of his duties because he thought the person had committed a crime. If the police officer acted in good faith and had probable cause, then he can use this defense if he is charged.
Another defense is called the “shopkeeper’s privilege.” This pertains to a store owner, an employee of the store or a security guard who believes a person is a shoplifter. In the situation, the store owner or his representatives can detain the person for questioning or until the police arrive. The store owner or employee must act in good faith.
There are other defenses a good criminal attorney employs to help a client facing unlawful imprisonment charges. This includes violation of civil rights or failure to properly use the Miranda warning. If you want an experienced lawyer on your side to fight for your freedom, contact Arizona criminal defense attorney David Michael Cantor today at 602-737-2812 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Our office is available 24 hours a day by phone and via our confidential email form.