To intentionally restrain another person without having the legal right to do so is against the law in New York. In the event that you restrain an individual in such a manner, you would have committed the crime of unlawful imprisonment. Typically, unlawful imprisonment involves employing some type of physical restraint, such as tying someone to a chair with rope or locking someone in a closet. That said, the use of violence is not a requirement to be charged with unlawful imprisonment. You could be prosecuted for unlawful imprisonment in the second degree under New York Penal Law § 135.05 if you unlawfully restrain another individual in any way. New York Penal Law § 135.00(1) defines the term “restrain” as intentionally and unlawfully restricting the movement of another individual. Such restriction must be substantial for the charge to be valid.
While Carole is out of the house, Chuck breaks into Carole’s house and begins to search for things to steal. Soon, Carole arrives home and finds Chuck going through her things. Chuck panics and grabs Carole, ties her ankles and hands, and throws her into a closet. He puts a chair in front of the closet door to stop her from being able to get out. Chuck then flees from the premises. In this scenario, Chuck could be prosecuted for unlawful imprisonment, because he substantially restrained Carole to prevent her from leaving.
Unlawful imprisonment in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 135.10
Kidnapping in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 135.25
Kidnapping in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 135.20
If you face a charge of unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, a plausible defense against the charge is that the person was not substantially restrained. For instance, if the person was retrained in such a manner that it would be an easy feat for that person to free themselves, then you may have a valid argument that the person was not imprisoned by the definition in the statute, as they could leave with minimal effort.
Unlawful imprisonment in the second degree is categorized as a class A misdemeanor. The maximum possible jail sentence you could face for this crime is 1 year. In lieu of being sentenced to jail time, the judge may choose to sentence you to a 3 year probation term.
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