In New Jersey, it's illegal to intentionally confine or restrain someone against their will. Restraining someone that you have a domestic relationship with, such as a spouse or family member, can result in a domestic violence crime.
What happens if you are charged and convicted of false imprisonment in New Jersey? At what point does it become a domestic violence case?
What Is False Imprisonment?
False imprisonment is when one person knowingly restrains another to substantially interfere with their liberty. You intentionally confine someone so that they cannot escape. New Jersey law considers false imprisonment a disorderly persons offense, which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
If the alleged victim is under 18 and the person restraining them is their parent or legal guardian, then it's not a crime. Confining a five-year-old throwing a tantrum to their bedroom until they calm down wouldn't result in a criminal offense, for example. On the other hand, locking your 18-year-old son in his room and physically preventing him from leaving the house could be considered criminal false imprisonment.
When False Imprisonment Is a Domestic Violence Crime
False imprisonment is a criminal offense, but it can also overlap with domestic violence law when the parties involved have a domestic relationship. A domestic relationship means: you're either married or used to be married; you're dating or have dated in the past; you're living together or used to live together; or you have a child together or are expecting a child together.
Your false imprisonment charge could be tried as a domestic violence crime. Not only will you face the penalties for false imprisonment, but the alleged victim could also sue you in civil court and get compensation for damages. They can also file a restraining order against you, which prevents you from coming near them. Although a restraining order isn't a crime, it has serious repercussions. If you live with someone who gets a restraining order against you, you have to move out immediately. You may be prohibited from seeing your kids as well.
False Imprisonment Scenarios
Several scenarios could be considered false imprisonment. Some examples are:
- A jealous husband doesn't want his wife to go out when he's away, so he locks her in the house with no way to get out.
- An intimate partner threatens to hurt his partner's children if she leaves him.
- A spouse deprives their husband or wife of food, water, or money, so they cannot go anywhere without the spouse.
In some situations, simply threatening to do or not do something may be considered false imprisonment. If you get charged with false imprisonment, you may also be charged with other crimes that are often related to it, such as kidnapping, criminal restraint, interference with custody, or criminal coercion. If convicted of these other crimes, you'd have to face the penalties for them in addition to false imprisonment.
What to Do if You're Charged with False Imprisonment
If you are dealing with a false imprisonment domestic violence case, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The Lento Law Firm helps people all over New Jersey with domestic violence cases. We understand what you're going through, and we can provide the help and support you need. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.