False Imprisonment vs. Kidnapping

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jun 16, 2010 | 0 Comments

Penal Code 236 PC California's false imprisonment law and Penal Code 207 PC California's kidnapping law are frequently confused and commonly misunderstood.

Many people believe that Penal Code 236 PC California's false imprisonment law necessarily involves incarceration in a jail or prison. Although false imprisonment may involve such circumstances, it generally doesn't. Simply put, false imprisonment occurs when you detain, restrain, or confine someone against their will. Felony false imprisonment takes place when you use force or fear to accomplish the detention, confinement, or restraint.

Kidnapping doesn't necessarily mean taking a child away from his/her parent (although it could). It takes place when you use force or fear to move any person a substantial distance. This means that you can't kidnap someone without also violating California's false imprisonment law. If you've moved someone against his/her will, you have restricted that individual's liberty…the core issue in a false imprisonment case.

If fact, because this is the case, even if a prosecutor charges you with kidnapping, a jury could find you not guilty of that offense and yet decide to convict you of false imprisonment instead. (Read our article about Kidnapping for ransom v. Posing as a kidnapper in California law.)

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).


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