False Imprisonment

Under Maryland law, false imprisonment is generally defined as unlawfully detaining another person against his or her will.  You won’t find the exact definition of false imprisonment online or in any statute book because it is considered a common law offense.  As such, it is a misdemeanor with no specific maximum or minimum penalty.  The punishment for common law offenses is only limited by the Eight Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.  Technically the maximum punishment for false imprisonment in Maryland is life in prison, but this would never actually happen due to the protections afforded by the Eight Amendment.  For comparison’s sake, false imprisonment is a level 5 offense on the sentencing guidelines table, which means it is treated about as seriously as a second-degree assault.  A conviction could result in potential jail time, supervised probation and a permanent criminal record, and thus anyone charged should immediately contact a Maryland false imprisonment lawyer.  Benjamin Herbst has extensive experience and success handing these charges and is standing by to offer a free consultation about the defenses that may be available to you.
While false imprisonment is not part of a specific statute, the jury instruction for the charge offers the most detailed definition about what the state actually has to prove in a false imprisonment case.  There are four main elements that the state has to satisfy, with the first being to establish that the defendant confined or detained the victim.  The state then has to establish that the confinement was against the victim’s will.  Third, the state must prove the confinement or detention was accomplished by force, the threat of force or deception.  It would not be necessary for the state to prove the defendant actually made a specific threat to do harm, as a victim could testify that they were in fear based on the totality of the circumstances.  Finally, the state must prove that there was no justification for the confinement or detention.  Each of these elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which means there is plenty of room for a good defense attorney to tear down the state’s case.
False imprisonment cases are typically domestically related though we have seen this offense frequently charged where there is a kidnapping or hostage related situation.  According to Maryland case law, false imprisonment can be viewed as a lesser offense of kidnapping, that does not include asportation of the victim.  Asportation is simply a legal term for removing or carrying away property or a person.  False imprisonment also is charged in a fairly significant number of domestic violence assault cases where a victim makes a claim that he or she was not permitted to leave the situation to get help.  These cases are often highly subjective and rest on the testimony of the victim alone, since there is rarely physical evidence that corroborates false imprisonment.  An experienced attorney knows how to cross examine the state’s witnesses and especially the victim in order to establish a lack of evidence.  Benjamin has cross examined hundreds of state’s witnesses including victims and eye witnesses of domestic violence cases.  He never backs down from trial if the state is not willing to dismiss or reduce the charges.
There are false imprisonment and kidnapping cases where the victim is alleged to have been tied up or bound, and these cases are certainly treated more seriously by the state.  They may be accompanied by felony first degree assault charges and the stakes will be significantly higher.  Benjamin Herbst is a Maryland false imprisonment lawyer who has successfully handled hundreds of violent offenses and domestic crimes.  He is available 7 days a week at 410-207-2598 to explain what defenses may be available in your criminal case.  The Herbst Firm offers flexible payment plans and handles cases in all Maryland jurisdictions from Ocean City to Cumberland.
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