Hollywood has effectively trained many people to picture a blindfolded or hogtied victim when they hear the words “kidnapping” or “false imprisonment.” In real life, these crimes are usually less theatrical and are most often related to domestic violence cases.
Many people also use “kidnapping” and “false imprisonment” interchangeably. However, although both crimes involve taking another person’s freedom without their consent, they are entirely different offenses. In Florida, there are some key differences between a kidnapping and a false imprisonment charge.
What Constitutes False Imprisonment in Florida?
False imprisonment, as defined in Florida Statute 787.02, means “forcibly, by threat, or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning, or restraining another person without lawful authority and against her or his will.”
Therefore, merely restraining someone without their consent can lead to a conviction for false imprisonment in Florida. Restraint does not necessarily have to involve a locked door, handcuffs, hogtying, or a weapon of any kind. Even temporarily restraining a person for just a couple of minutes can result in a false imprisonment charge that could put you behind bars for up to 30 years.
A typical example of false imprisonment is if a husband refuses to let his wife leave their home despite her pleas to be let out. Whether this means simply keeping her home during a heated argument or locking the doors and windows and forbidding her from setting foot outside for days does not matter. In most domestic violence cases, false imprisonment is charged as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
What is Considered Kidnapping in Florida?
Florida Statute 787.01 describes kidnapping as “forcibly, secretly or by threat abducting, confining or imprisoning someone without his or her consent.” This may sound like false imprisonment, but kidnapping is a more serious crime that requires intending to commit another offense. Although this can mean holding a person ransom for reward or as a hostage like in the movies, it can also mean simply intending to inflict bodily harm upon the victim.
Like false imprisonment, a kidnapping charge can result from a brief interaction. Kidnapping can be charged as a first-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of 30 years imprisonment, or a life felony that could cause you to spend the remainder of your life in prison.
If a gun was used during a kidnapping, Florida’s 10/20/Life law would apply. Commonly referred to as the “Three Strikes Law,” this rule determines the minimum sentences for firearm-related offenses. The second a trigger is pulled, the sentence becomes a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison. If the bullet hits someone, it is an automatic 25 years to life in prison, regardless of whether the person is killed.
Fight a Kidnapping or False Imprisonment Charge with a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
Kidnapping and false imprisonment are severe crimes that come with harsh penalties in Florida. If you are facing a charge of kidnapping or false imprisonment, you need the assistance of an experienced legal professional who can negotiate on your behalf to have your charges mitigated, or in some cases, dropped entirely.
Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Gabriel has devoted his almost 30-year legal career to defending Floridians accused of crimes such as kidnapping and false imprisonment. When you need an effective defense strategy, you can depend on the experience of Mr. Gabriel to defend your case diligently.