False Imprisonment Charge in Wisconsin
What, precisely, is false imprisonment? The Wisconsin state statute tells us that, “Whoever intentionally confines or restrains another without the person's consent and with knowledge that he or she has no lawful authority to do so is guilty of a Class H felony.” So there are four components to this crime:
- Someone was confined,
- and without their consent,
- by someone who knowingly had no authority to do so.
Penalties for False Imprisonment Charge in Wisconsin
False imprisonment is a Class H felony which means that it carries a maximum sentence of 6 years incarceration and/or a $10,000 fine.
A person has not been truly confined if they have some simple way of escape, such as an easily accessible back door. However, it is not necessary for the victim to have to attempt a dangerous means of escape before they can be considered to be falsely imprisoned. For instance, if the back door is unlocked, but the backyard is full of vicious guard dogs, the person is “confined.”
The requirements for false imprisonment have not been satisfied if the person was unintentionally confined. Locking up a building without knowing someone is inside is an accident, not a crime. Also, the defendant must know they had no authority to imprison the victim. It is generally lawful for a shop owner to detain a shoplifter while waiting for the police. However, if the shop owner unknowingly exceeds their authority, as an honest mistake, they are not guilty of false imprisonment.
What is the difference between false imprisonment and kidnapping? Kidnapping is defined as using force or threat of force to carry someone from one place to another with the intent to imprison them or force them to work.
Penalties for Kidnapping Charge in Wisconsin
Kidnapping is an even more serious crime, carrying a penalty of up to 40 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine, or even 60 years in certain circumstances. Contrary to what you might expect, false imprisonment is not a lesser included offense of kidnapping.
What to do when facing Kidnapping or False Imprisonment Charges
If you or a friend are facing false imprisonment or kidnapping charges in Wisconsin, you need to be aware of two things: 1) These are serious felonies carrying steep penalties, and 2) You don’t have to deal with it on your own. At Grieve Law in Waukesha, our criminal defense attorneys have years of experience fighting difficult cases...and winning. When we fight for you, we don’t back down. Call us now for a free consultation!