False Imprisonment Defense Attorney

Serving St. Petersburg & the Nearby Communities

  • Generally

False imprisonment is a "lesser included" offense of kidnapping. The two crimes are similar in that both involve the confining, abducting, imprisoning, or restraining of another, without lawful authority to do so. Additionally, both require that the crime be committed forcibly, by threat, or in a stealthy or secret manner. Finally, the penalties for both offenses are increased significantly where the alleged victim is under the age of 13 and the accused also commits an aggravated child abuse, sexual battery, lewd and lascivious, or child exploitation offense. Kidnapping has some additional elements which distinguish it from false imprisonment. In a kidnapping scenario, the state must prove (in addition to the aforementioned penalties) that the accused had the intent to (1) hold the victim for ransom; (2) commit or facilitate the commission of another felony; inflict bodily harm upon the victim or another; or (4) interfere with the performance of a governmental political function. The state is not required to prove (1) - (4) in a false imprisonment case.

False imprisonment is frequently charged in domestic related incidents, where the accused is alleged to have prevented the victim from leaving a room or the house. Often times, effective pre-file negotiations with the prosecutor can result in a false imprisonment count not being formally charged, particularly where there is nothing particularly aggravating about the underlying circumstances and/or where the alleged victim refuses to cooperate. In a recent case (by way of example), my client was involved in a mutual domestic altercation with his girlfriend, who was extremely intoxicated. When she attempted to leave the house, my client took her keys from her and pulled her back inside the front door because he did not want her to drive in that condition. The police were arriving at the same time and arrested him for false imprisonment. Based on the totality of the circumstances, this was a charge that we were able to prevent from being filed. As with all criminal charges, early intervention by an expericned St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney can have a signifcant impact on the outcome of your case, as it did here. No matter what your circumstances, there is usually much that can be done to mitigate, or eliminate the impact of a criminal charge.

Generally speaking, false imprisonment is a third degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. As a third degree felony, false imprisonment is a level 6 for sentencing guideline purposes. A level 6 offense will not, in and of itself, score mandatory prison. Where the alleged victim is under the age of 13, and the accused also commits a aggravated child abuse, sexual battery, lewd or lascivious battery, or an exploitation offense, the penalties for false imprisonment is a first degree felony that is punishable by up to life in prison. It is a level 9 offense, which translates into some significant time on the the guidelines.

  • Applicable Florida Statutes

Florida statutes section 787.02 provides as follows:

(1)(a) The term "false imprisonment" means forcibly, by threat, or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning, or restraining another person without lawful authority and against his or her will. (b) Confinement of a child under the age of 13 is against his or her will within the meaning of this section if such confinement is without the consent of his or her parent or legal guardian.

(2) A person who commits the offense of false imprisonment is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided is s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(3)(a) A person who commits the offense of false imprisonment upon a child under the age of 13 and who, in the course of committing the offense, commits any offense enumerated in paragraphs 1.-5., commits a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life, or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. 1. Aggravated child abuse, as defined in s. 827.03; 2. Sexual battery, as defined in chapter 794, against the child; 3. Lewd or lascivious battery, lewd or lascivious molestation, lewd or lascivious conduct, or lewd or lascivious exhibition, in violation of s. 800.04 or s. 847.0135(5); 4. A violation of s. 796.03 or s. 796.04, relating to prostitution upon the child; or 5. Exploitation of the child or allowing the child to be exploited, in violation of s. 450.151. (b) Pursuant to s. 775.021(4), nothing contained herein shall be construed to prohibit the imposition of separate judgments for the first degree offense described in paragraph (a) and for each separate offense enumerated in subparagraphs (a) 1.-5.

  • Applicable Jury Instructions

To prove the crime of False Imprisonment, the state must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant [forcibly][secretly][by threat]

[confined][abducted][imprisoned][restrained]

victim against [his][her] will.

2. Defendant had no lawful authority.

Read only if confinement is alleged and child is under 13 years of age

Confinement of a child under the age of 13 is against [his][her] will if such confinement is without the consent of [his][her] parent or legal guardian.


False Imprisonment is a lesser included offense of kidnapping. If the alleged victim is under the age of 13, and the accused commits a sexual offense in the process, the penalties for false imprisonment are life altering. If you have been charged with false imprisonment in Pinellas or Hillsborough counties, intervention by an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney is critical. The Kilfin Law Firm, P.C. can help. The initial consultation is free.


  • Resources

The following is a list of prior blog posts and other website sections on topics related to kidnapping offenses:‚Äč

  • Blog Posts
  1. Do I Need a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney?
  2. They Never Read Me My Rights - Can My Charge Be Dismissed?
  3. Inchoate (Incomplete) Crimes: Attempt, Solicitation and Conspiracy
  4. Florida's Principal Statute: All For One and One For All
  5. Florida's William's Rule: What Is It and What Does It Mean For My Criminal Case?
  6. Pre-Trial Release In Florida: The Basics
  7. Speedy Trial in Florida: An Overview
  8. Search and Seizure in Florida: An Overview
  • Sections
  1. Alibi As a Defense to Your St. Petersburg, Clearwater, or Tampa Area Criminal Charge
  2. Affecting the Filing Decision
  3. Pre-trial Diversion
  4. Withholding of Adjudication
  5. Plea Negotiations
  6. Defensive Motions
  7. Trial
  8. Sentencing
  9. Probation Violations
  10. Violent Felony Offenders of Special Concern
  11. Kidnapping
  12. Domestic Violence
  • The Bottom Line

False imprisonment is similar to kidnapping in that many of the elements are the same. False imprisonment is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Unlike its kidnapping counterpart, it will not, in and of itself, score mandatory prison. If, however, the alleged victim is under 13, and the accused also commits aggravated child abuse, sexual battery, lewd and lascivious battery, or child exploitation, false imprisonment is a first degree, punishable by life felony. Also the person can be prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced for both the false imprisonment count and the underlying offense. If you are facing even the potential of false imprisonment charges, it's crucial to contact an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The penalties are serious, so you need a serious advocate for your rights and freedom. Call our firm today for a free initial consultation.