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False Imprisonment and Domestic Violence

Criminal Attorneys Offering Representation to Tacoma Residents

People deal with domestic disputes in different ways. In some cases, one person will attempt to diffuse a situation by leaving but will be detained by a second person. Regardless of the intention behind the act, knowingly forcing a member of your family or household to remain in a place against his or her will is illegal and can result in unlawful imprisonment charges. Unlawful imprisonment, typically called false imprisonment, is a felony, and a conviction can result in significant penalties. If you are charged with unlawful imprisonment, it is important to engage a trusted Tacoma domestic violence lawyer to help you protect your rights. At the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC, our experienced attorneys will assertively advocate on your behalf to help you seek the most favorable legal outcome available under the facts of your case. We represent people facing charges of false imprisonment and domestic violence in Tacoma, as well as other cities in Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties.

False Imprisonment and Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is defined by multiple Washington statutes. First, RCW 26.50.010 states that when a person assaults or sexually assaults, stalks, or causes physical harm or injury to a member of his or her family or household, this constitutes domestic violence. Placing someone in imminent fear of physical harm, injury, or assault is considered domestic violence as well. Additionally, RCW 10.99.020 lists several crimes, including unlawful imprisonment, as domestic violence when committed by one member of a household or family against another member.

Unlawful imprisonment is defined by RCW 9A.40.040 as knowingly restraining another person. “Restrain” is defined under the Washington Criminal Code as restricting a person’s movements to substantially interfere with his or her liberty, without legal authority or the person’s consent. Restraint is made without consent if it is achieved through force, intimidation, or deception.

Unlawful imprisonment can occur when a person forces his or her estranged family member or romantic partner to remain in a house or car. Additionally, a person may hold a second person against his or her will in an attempt to obtain the attention of a third person. If you are charged with domestic violence unlawful imprisonment, you should speak with a skillful criminal defense attorney to discuss your charges and the defenses that you may be able to set forth.

Penalties Imposed for a Domestic Violence Unlawful Imprisonment Conviction

False imprisonment is a Class C felony. Under Washington law, a conviction of a Class C felony can result in penalties of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. People convicted of domestic violence crimes in Washington may also be required to pay a separate $100 penalty.

Defenses to False Imprisonment and Domestic Violence

Unlawful imprisonment does not require proof of harm or an intent to harm. The State must prove each element of the crime, however. Specifically, the State must show that you acted with the intent of restricting another person from moving. In many domestic violence false imprisonment cases, the evidence is purely circumstantial and is based solely on the testimony of the alleged victim. Thus, you may be able to argue that the charges against you should be dismissed because the State cannot offer sufficient proof of each element of the crime. For example, you can argue that your acts were not intentional. Additionally, if the State has insufficient evidence that you actually restrained the other person, or if the other person consented to your acts, you can argue that the evidence is inadequate to convict you.

Meet with a Knowledgeable Tacoma Attorney Regarding Your Domestic Violence Charge

If you are charged with domestic violence unlawful imprisonment, it is essential to meet with a knowledgeable domestic violence defense lawyer regarding your charges as soon as possible. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Smith & White, PLLC will develop persuasive arguments on your behalf to help you pursue a successful outcome under the facts of your case. Our main office is located in Tacoma, and we are available to meet by appointment at a second office in Vashon. We can be reached at 253-203-1645 or via our online form to set up a complimentary and confidential meeting regarding your charges.

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