The offense of unlawful imprisonment is defined by A.R.S. § 13-1303(A), which states that “[a] person commits unlawful imprisonment by knowingly restraining another person.” However, in any prosecution for unlawful imprisonment, it is the defense that:
The standard justification defenses in Title 13, Chapter 4, such as self-defense, defense of others, and crime prevention, also apply. If you or somebody you love is facing unlawful imprisonment charges in Arizona, speak with a Phoenix false imprisonment attorney as soon as possible. The false imprisonment lawyers at Stone Rose Law offer free consultations and are standing by to take your case. Call our local law office at (480) 498-8998.
Unlawful imprisonment is a class 6 felony. However, if the victim is released voluntarily by the defendant without physical injury in a safe place before arrest, it is a class 1 misdemeanor. In the case the victim is under the age of 18 and not the defendant’s child, sex offender registration is required for a minimum period of ten years if a defendant is convicted of unlawful imprisonment. Registration is required even if the offense is not sexually motivated. Learn more about the potential consequences for unlawful imprisonment charges in Arizona by speaking with a Phoenix criminal attorney experienced in defending against false imprisonment charges.
Oddly enough, it is currently unclear whether a defendant charged with unlawful imprisonment could successfully defend the charge by demonstrating that the alleged victim consented to be restrained. Indeed, “consent” is not a defense that is recognized in Arizona’s criminal code outside of the context of sexual abuse and sexual assault. Further, based upon the language in A.R.S. § 13-1303(A), a lack of consent is not something the state has to prove to obtain a conviction for unlawful imprisonment. However, in State v. Braidick, 231 Ariz. 357 (2013), the Court of Appeals implied that a consent defense might be viable when, while describing the facts underlying the offense in that case, it noted that “[d]efendant continuously restricted the victim’s movements without her consent.” If consent, or a lack thereof, were irrelevant to the charge of unlawful imprisonment, then the Court of Appeals’ comment regarding the lack of consent in Braidick would be superfluous. Regardless, as a practical matter, it is doubtful that the state would prosecute a case where the person restrained had consented to their restraint.
When there is a level of ambiguity surrounding the offense of unlawful imprisonment within the law, it is vital that you retain a Phoenix false imprisonment attorney that will spend the time doing the research necessary to establish the validity of your defense, regardless of what it might be. If you are charged with unlawful imprisonment, call Stone Rose Law now for a free consultation.