Nevada False Imprisonment Lawyers

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 What is False Imprisonment?

Most individuals think of a jail cell or a prison when they think of false imprisonment. False imprisonment, however, often does not involve a jail cell or law enforcement authorities.

False imprisonment is the unauthorized detention of one individual by another individual. Many individuals also think of criminal activity as false imprisonment is a criminal offense.

False imprisonment, however, can also be a civil wrong that may lead to liability for damages on the part of a perpetrator. In the phrase false imprisonment, the word false means without authority or unlawful.

The term imprisonment means restraining an individual without their consent and depriving the individual of their freedom of movement. Generally, false imprisonment may be done with words of physical acts.

In order to convict a defendant of false imprisonment, the prosecution will be required to prove:

  • The person used words or acts to confine the victim;
  • The victim was confined;
  • The victim knew they were confined; and
  • The confinement was unlawful.

Any individual may be held liable for civil false imprisonment of another individual if the following takes place:

  • The perpetrator says words or commits any acts with the intent to restrain the victim;
  • The perpetrator confines the victim for a period of time;
  • The victim is aware that they are being confined or restrained;
  • The victim suffers harm, which may be:
    • physical;
    • financial, or
    • emotional.

Any individual can perpetrate civil false imprisonment of another individual. In addition, the perpetrator may also be a member of law enforcement who acts outside of their authority.

Successfully prevailing in a false imprisonment claim does not require proof of the use of physical force by the perpetrator. An implied threat of force may be enough to show the intent of the perpetrator.

One example of a threat of force is if a perpetrator states that they would harm the victim if the perpetrator attempted to leave. For the offense to be false imprisonment, the victim must be aware of their confinement.

For example, if the victim is asleep when they were falsely imprisoned and were unaware of the imprisonment, the perpetrator will most likely not be found liable for false imprisonment. In certain states, in order for false imprisonment to occur, the victim cannot have a reasonable means of escape.

In certain cases, a failure to act may also form the basis for false imprisonment. For example, if an individual were to fail to unlock a door if another individual was trapped in a space behind it, this may constitute false imprisonment.

Examples of false imprisonment include:

  • An individual gets into an argument with their spouse and tries to leave the residence but their spouse prevents them from doing so;
  • One individual creates some type of barricade so that another individual cannot leave their house or other space;
  • One individual prevents another individual from exiting a commercial space when they wish to leave;
  • One individual blocks another individual’s car so they are not able to exit a parking lot;
  • An individual ties another individual to a chair. Even grabbing an individual’s arm to prevent them from leaving may be considered false imprisonment.

False imprisonment, or unlawful restraint, as a criminal offense, is closely related to the crime of kidnapping. Both of those offenses involve the unlawful restraining of another individual, typically using force or the threat of force.

However, kidnapping also requires proof of an additional element, which is moving the victim from one place to another, even if the distance is short. In certain states, the individual who restrains another individual must do so with the intent to:

  • Demand ransom to release the victim;
  • Use the victim as a hostage or as a shield;
  • Commit another crime;
  • Interfere with political or government functions; or
  • Terrorize or hurt the victim or another individual.

An arrest may be unlawful when the law enforcement officer who makes the arrest either does not have a warrant or probable cause to make the arrest. An arresting officer who does not take the arrested individual before a court or magistrate within a reasonable amount of time may also be liable for false imprisonment.

A law enforcement officer who perpetrates false imprisonment may be civilly liable for damages for false imprisonment. In addition, the individual who is arrested may have to seek a writ of habeas corpus in order to be released from their unlawful detention.

For example, in one case in Colorado, a law enforcement officer approached a woman who was sitting in her car. The officer was investigating the fact that her dog had been loose and not on a leash.

The police officer ordered the woman to show her driver’s license and when she refused, the officer arrested her. The officer was found liable for false imprisonment because there is no law in Colorado that requires an individual to show a police officer their driver’s license.

So, in this case, the woman had been arrested without probable cause. This was true even though the woman was later convicted of a violation of the local dog leash ordinance.

How Does Nevada Define False Imprisonment?

In the State of Nevada, false imprisonment is the criminal act of limiting an individual’s personal liberty by confining them to a certain area or detaining them without proper authority. In order to convict a defendant of false imprisonment in Nevada, the prosecution must provide beyond a reasonable doubt that they:

  • Unlawfully violated the victim’s personal liberty;
  • Held the victim in an area that was consistent with detention or confinement; and
  • Had no legal authority to confine the victim.

Are False Imprisonment and Kidnapping the Same in Nevada?

No, false imprisonment and kidnapping are not the same in Nevada but are separate criminal acts. Kidnapping is the intentional, willful and unlawful taking of a victim with the intent to commit:

  • Murder;
  • Extortion;
  • Robbery;
  • Sexual assault; or
  • Bodily harm to the victim.

What is the Punishment for False Imprisonment?

There are several penalties a defendant may face for false imprisonment which may vary depending upon the facts of the case. If there are no aggravating factors in the crime, false imprisonment is a gross misdemeanor.

In Nevada, the punishment for a gross misdemeanor may include:

  • Up to one year in jail;
  • A $2,000 criminal fine; or
  • Both.

If aggravating factors are present, the crime is a category B felony is punishable by:

  • One to six years in prison if the offense was committed with a deadly weapon or if the offense was committed by a prisoner in a penal institution without a deadly weapon;
  • One to 15 years if the perpetrator used the victim as a shield or in some way as to avoid arrest; or
  • One to 20 years in prison if the offense was committed by a prisoner with a deadly weapon.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My False Imprisonment Criminal Case?

False imprisonment may occur in a normal, everyday situation, even in the workplace. An individual may also be falsely imprisoned by a law enforcement officer.

If you have experienced an injury or loss as a result of false imprisonment, you may be able to file a lawsuit for damages in civil court. Your attorney can advise you of the local laws and the possible outcomes of your case.

If you have been charged with the crime of false imprisonment, it is important to consult with a Nevada criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can analyze the evidence against you and advise you of the possible outcomes.

If you have been illegally detained by law enforcement, your attorney may need to seek a writ of habeas corpus in order for you to be released from detention.

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