Colorado False Imprisonment – C.R.S. 18-3-303

False imprisonment may sound like a charge that would be applicable if you were improperly detained or arrested by law enforcement. That is not the case, although some of the same principles apply. In Colorado, False Imprisonment is actually a very common charge and rarely applicable to the police.

One may be charged with, and if proven – convicted of, false imprisonment if that person “knowingly confines or detains another without the other’s consent and without proper legal authority.”

In order to be convicted, it must be shown that you “knowingly” confined or detained another person. A person acts knowingly if he is practically certain that his conduct will result in certain consequences. It may be the case that you didn’t have the mens rea or ‘required mind state’ for this offense. Experienced criminal defense attorneys, like those at the Law Office of Jacob E. Martinez, understand how to construct these mens rea arguments and defend against this type of charge.

The statute, or law, tells us that this offense does not apply to law enforcement if they are acting in good faith and “within the scope of” their duties. In short, if there is probable cause for the arrest then that will prevent the law enforcement officer from having any liability for false imprisonment.

Generally, False Imprisonment is prosecuted as a Class 2 Misdemeanor. That means that a conviction for this offense can be punished by up to 12 months in jail and/or fines of up to $1,000.

With that said, there are three (3) different circumstances when this offense is charged and prosecuted as a Class 5 felony.

  1. If the defendant used force or threats of force to confine/detain someone and did confine/detain that person for twelve (12) hours or longer; or
  2. If the defendant confined/detained someone less than eighteen (18) years old in a locked or barricaded room and under circumstances that cause bodily injury or serious emotional distress. Further, it must be proven that such confinement/detainment was part of a continued pattern of cruel punishment or unreasonable isolation or confinement of the child; or
  3. If the defendant confined/detained someone who is less than eighteen (18) years by “means of tying, caging, chaining, or otherwise using similar physical restrains to restrict that person” and under circumstances that cause bodily injury or serious emotional distress.

Clearly, it is imperative that your defense attorney understands what these complex terms like “serious emotional distress” and “bodily injury” signify and how to show that these dynamics did not exist.

Frequently, and unfortunately, false imprisonment is often a charge we see in domestic violence cases. Perhaps someone blocked a door in an effort to keep a conversation going. If you are charged with False Imprisonment, and it is based in domestic violence, then having an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner is critically important. Domestic violence is a very serious allegation in Colorado and can stain your record, or criminal history, for the rest of your life.

Regardless of whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony false imprisonment, an experienced criminal defense attorney is key. Contact the attorneys at the Law Office of Jacob E. Martinez to set up a free consultation.