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How domestic violence becomes unlawful imprisonment

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2021 | Domestic Violence

Close quarters, drug or alcohol intoxication, financial troubles, differences in politics — even holiday stress — can all contribute to family arguments that bubble up and spill out of control.

A family fight that escalates and ends in a domestic violence charge is bad enough, naturally. However, things can go from bad to worse very fast if you end up charged with unlawful imprisonment as a result of your dispute.

Why would a fight between a couple end up as unlawful imprisonment?

In New York, the law defines unlawful imprisonment as any intentional action that’s designed to restrain another person’s movements without their consent. This can be done through actual force, deception, intimidation or any other means.

For example, imagine this scenario: Alice and Ben have been out together, dancing at a club. Ben thinks Alice was flirting with another man. They argue all the way home. When they get back to their apartment, Alice says she’s leaving and going to her mother’s. Ben grabs her car keys, phone and purse out of her hands, slaps her and locks the door. He yells at her to say that she’s not going anywhere except bed. Terrified, she obeys.

That sort of situation could easily end with Ben being charged with both domestic violence (for slapping Alice) and unlawful imprisonment for forcing her to go inside their apartment.

Unlawful imprisonment is, at minimum, a Class A misdemeanor. If the victim is exposed to the risk of serious physical harm in the process, the crime becomes a Class E felony. That can get you up to four years in prison.

There’s no such thing as a “simple” domestic violence charge. If you’re facing charges, you need some experienced guidance to help you through the situation.