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    Colorado False Imprisonment Laws and Colorado Domestic Violence Cases

    By Denver Colorado Domestic Violence – False Imprisonment Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg

    Colorado False Imprisonment
    Colorado False Imprisonment Arrests

    Understanding C.R.S § 18-3-303 False imprisonment

    Under Colorado criminal law 18-3-303- false imprisonment as a charge is often charged in Colorado domestic violence cases.  For that reason – a closer look at how the crime is proven in Colorado and defenses to a conviction for false imprisonment should be helpful to the person charged in such cases.

    Here Is the Colorado Law of False Imprisonment – Colorado Statutes – § 18-3-303. False imprisonment

    (1)  Any person who knowingly confines or detains another without the other’s consent and without proper legal authority commits false imprisonment. This section shall not apply to a peace officer acting in good faith within the scope of his or her duties.

    (2)  False imprisonment is a class 2 misdemeanor; except that false imprisonment is a class 5 felony if:

    (a)  The person uses force or threat of force to confine or detain the other person; and

    (b)  The person confines or detains the other person for twelve hours or longer.

    OK Then – What Exactly IS False Imprisonment?

    False imprisonment is defined in Colorado and in most states as the knowing confinement of a person without legal authority or consent. Before you can be convicted of false imprisonment – the DA must prove that you “knowingly” confined the alleged victim within certain boundaries and the victim – a woman in most cases – did not give consent to be confined AND that the intended boundaries actually confined the alleged victim unlawfully.

    Every case is different of course. The charge can be either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the facts particular to a case. if: the accused uses force or threat of force to confine or detain the other person – and the accused confines or detains the other person for twelve hours or longer…. it is a felony 5.

    The victim in a false imprisonment case can also file a claim in civil court for damages.

    False Imprisonment Charges – An Example of A Mistakes NOT Amounting To False Imprisonment

    A person who locks a room who does not know that there is another individual within the room, does not knowingly confine the individual in the room and can not have committed the crime of false imprisonment…. BUT if the person who at first does not realize he is confining another and later learns of the confinement but does not allow the person to leave, then the crime of false imprisonment is made out.

    False imprisonment can occur as a result of duress, force, or threat of force. Under these circumstances consent obtained from an alleged victim by coercion or threat is not valid.

    Another Example of False Imprisonment – Law Enforcement And Citizen’s Arrests

    The Colorado crime of false imprisonment requires that any confinement be unlawful.  Therefore almost any situation in which one person imprisons another will probably result in an unlawful confinement. The lawful confinement by a law enforcement officer making a legal arrest is not false imprisonment but if an individual pretends he has legal authority to make an arrest in order to confine another individual, this would be false imprisonment.

    The defense of authorized confinement in this context – to a false imprisonment claim is when a legal arrest has been made. A lawful arrest is made by a Colorado peace officer based on probable cause or an arrest warrant. A “citizen’s arrest” can be made under very limited circumstances. A citizen’s arrest is when one or more civilians “arrest” another civilian and if the arrest is a lawful exercise of his or her legal duty to arrest of an individual that they reasonably believed had been involved in a crime, this results in a complete defense to a Colorado charge of false imprisonment.

    Here is the Law in Colorado On Citizen’s Arrests

    § 18-1-707. Use of Physical Force in Making an Arrest or in Preventing an Escape

    (7) A private person acting on his own account is justified in using reasonable and appropriate physical force upon another person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to effect an arrest, or to prevent the escape from custody of an arrested person who has committed an offense in his presence; but he is justified in using deadly physical force for the purpose only when he reasonably believes it necessary to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force.?

    § 16-3-201. Arrest by a Private Person

    A person who is not a peace officer may arrest another person when any crime has been or is being committed by the arrested person in the presence of the person making the arrest.

    Cite as C.R.S § 16-3-201

    Improper Arrests In Colorado As False Imprisonment

    If a police office has “probable cause for arrest” he cannot be civilly liable for false imprisonment. Even if the accused is later acquitted at trial for the charge for which he was arrested and imprisoned – that does not necessarily impact the issue of the lawfulness of the arrest. That is because the officer’s right to make an arrest is dependent upon the facts and circumstances in existence at the time of the arrest and is not dependent upon the outcome of a subsequent trial.

    As noted – probable cause for arrest prevents liability for false imprisonment and where the police have both probable cause to believe that an offense had been committed and that the accused is the person who had committed it, he is not civilly liable for false arrest and false imprisonment under Colorado law.

    Some Common Defenses To The Charge of The Crime of Colorado False Imprisonment

    The there are a number of legal defenses to Colorado false imprisonment charges.

    Some of the most common of these defenses include:

    Defense of Yourself Or Others  – If you – the accused imprison a person to protect yourself or someone else from serious bodily harm self-defense /defense of others, or if you only imprisoned the person because you were weight loss threatened or forced into doing so duress,

    Consent – the alleged victim actually consented to the restraint / confinement,

    Wrongful Arrest – you are the victim of false accusations and/or wrongful arrest,

    Parental Rights – as a parent, you lawfully restrict or confine your child.

    Mistaken identity – if you were not with the alleged victim at the time of the confinement, mistaken of identity may be a potential defense.

    Lack of proof – DA or city prosecutor must prove every element of your alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The Good Faith Defense To False Imprisonment

    If you can show that a specific confinement was in good faith, – that is – for the protection of the individual being confined, – even if not true in fact – the charge of false imprisonment may be defeated.

    In addition to consent – other defenses include lack of evidence of confinement or legally authorized confinement such as in a jail or prison environment or a merchant confinement such as shoplifting incident.

    Punishment And Consequences of False Imprisonment Charges in Colorado

    Colorado Sentencing Laws LINK

    As a misdemeanor – False Imprisonment is a Class 2 misdemeanor – punishable by up to one year in the county jail. As a felony – it is a Class 5 felony – punishable by up to three years in a state prison.

    Additional consequences of such a conviction, in addition to possible lengthy jail or prison sentences, include future difficulty finding employment, the loss or inability to acquire or maintain professional licenses, and other collateral issues.

    How Is The Crime of Kidnapping Different From The Crime False Imprisonment?

    Compare Colorado Kidnapping Laws

    Kidnapping requires the movement of the victim – false imprisonment is the confining of someone or causing someone to believe he or she is confined to any location, whether small or large and regardless of whether it is locked or not.

    The most basic difference is that the false imprisonment need only last for a moment, like preventing a girlfriend from leaving by holding a door shut or telling someone that he or she cannot leave. This is done by using force or the threat of force.  In kidnapping the victim is forcibly restrained under circumstances exposing him or her to serious bodily injury and also does requires some form of transporting the victim.

    Denver Colorado Kidnapping and False Imprisonment Defense Lawyer – Colorado Kidnapping:

    Here Is The Law of Kidnapping In Colorado

    18-3-302. Second degree kidnapping

    (1) Any person who knowingly seizes and carries any person from one place to another, without his consent and without lawful justification, commits second degree kidnapping.

    (2) Any person who takes, entices, or decoys away any child not his own under the age of eighteen years with intent to keep or conceal the child from his parent or guardian or with intent to sell, trade, or barter such child for consideration commits second degree kidnapping.

    (3) Second degree kidnapping is a class 2 felony if any of the following circumstances exist:

    (a) The person kidnapped is a victim of a sexual offense pursuant to part 4 of this article; or

    (b) The person kidnapped is a victim of a robbery.

    (4) (a) Unless it is a class 2 felony under subsection (3) of this section, second degree kidnapping is a class 3 felony if any of the following circumstances exist:

    (I) The kidnapping is accomplished with intent to sell, trade, or barter the victim for consideration; or

    (II) The kidnapping is accomplished by the use of a deadly weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to cause a person to reasonably believe that the article is a deadly weapon; or

    (III) The kidnapping is accomplished by the perpetrator representing verbally or otherwise that he or she is armed with a deadly weapon.

    (b) A defendant convicted of second degree kidnapping committed under any of the circumstances set forth in this subsection (4) shall be sentenced by the court in accordance with the provisions of section 18-1.3-406.

    (5) Second degree kidnapping is a class 4 felony, except as provided in subsections (3) and (4) of this section.

    Colorado False Imprisonment and Domestic Violence

    In Colorado – the crime of false imprisonment is charged mostly in situations when one person will not allow another person leave a residence. Most often both people actually reside in the home in question. 

    It is overcharged. The restriction on movement and liberty in false imprisonment cases must be a total restriction. I often see charges where the significant other simply restricted the women’s actions from time to time. This is not false imprisonment situation. A “feeling of captivity” is not  false imprisonment. … the “sense” that you are being “held captive within your own home” is not false imprisonment. “Psychologically pressure” on you to remain captive by using emotional or verbal persuasion is not false imprisonment situation. So called “moral” pressure to “stay’ in a place or situation is not evidence of actual false imprisonment in Colorado.

    Please call our law firm if you have questions about ..

    Colorado False Imprisonment

    H. Michael Steinberg has been a Colorado criminal law specialist attorney for 40 years (as of 2012). For the First 13 years of his career, he was an Arapahoe – Douglas County District Attorney Senior  prosecutor. In 1999 he formed his own law firm for the defense of Colorado criminal cases.

    In addition to handling tens of thousands of cases in the trial courts of Colorado, he has written hundreds of articles regarding the practice of Colorado criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on the Fox News Channel, CNN and Various National and Local Newspapers and Radio Stations.  Please call him at your convenience at 720-220-2277. 

    If you have questions about Colorado False Imprisonment in the Denver metropolitan area and throughout Colorado, attorney H. Michael Steinberg will be pleased to answer those questions and to provides quality legal representation to those charged in Colorado adult and juvenile criminal matters.

    In the Denver metropolitan area and throughout Colorado, attorney H. Michael Steinberg provides quality legal representation to those charged in Colorado adult and juvenile criminal matters…as regards Colorado False Imprisonment.


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    H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
    Attorney and Counselor at Law
    The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
    A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
    Colorado Criminal Law For Over 40 Years.
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