Kidnapping is the unlawful act of taking an individual without consent by using fraud or force. That individual can be a stranger or even a family member. There are other criminal acts that may appear to be kidnapping at first because of the similarities in actions, but do not actually constitute kidnapping. In Texas, one criminal charge similar to kidnapping is unlawful restraint.

What Is Unlawful Restraint in Texas?

Unlawful restraint occurs when a person knowingly or intentionally restrains another individual without the consent of the restrained individual and without the authority to restrain the individual. A person is restrained when their physical movements are restricted or prohibited. It may involve substantially interfering with their liberty by moving the individual to different locations without their consent.

How Is “Without Consent” Defined?

The term “without consent” means the defendant did not have permission from the victim to restrict their movements or move them to a different location. Restraint without permission from an individual includes:

  • Using force
  • Using intimidation
  • Using deception
  • Taking the victim

What Is the Punishment for an Unlawful Restraint Conviction in Texas?
Unlawful restraint is a Class A misdemeanor. The punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is:

  • Up to one year in county jail
  • Fine of $4,000
  • A fine and county jail time

Can Unlawful Restraint Ever Be a Felony?

Yes, unlawful restraint can be a felony. It becomes a felony if a person knowingly or intentionally:

  • Recklessly exposes the individual to substantial risk of serious bodily injury
  • Restrains an individual who is a public servant while they are on duty
  • Restrains someone while in custody

If any of these things occur, the unlawful restraint becomes a third degree felony. The felony is punishable by:

  • Two to 10 years in prison
  • $10,000 fine
  • Both fine and prison time

It is a state jail felony if the individual restrained is a minor younger than 17 years old.

Should I Contact an Attorney Regarding My Unlawful Restraint Charge?

Being charged with unlawful restraint is a serious matter. Contact a Texas criminal attorney about the possible defenses available in Texas to fight your criminal charge.