California False Imprisonment Law

False imprisonment is a charge with many facets and associated penalties. Individuals can be arrested for this crime and later commended for their actions once all the facts are released. The complexity of the charge means that anyone facing it must be familiar with its facets and the need to hire an experienced attorney to combat them.

What is false imprisonment according to Penal Code 236 PC?

This crime according to Penal Code 236 PC is the deliberate, unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another. This form of imprisonment can take a number of different forms. One common form is through the process of a robbery. An individual may tie people up and lock them in a room while they steal a large amount of money. They may lock their home or business and refuse to allow an individual to leave. The charge according to California Penal Code 237 can sometimes be mitigated by factors such as citizen’s arrest and the shopkeeper’s privilege. Citizen’s arrest is when a citizen detains a suspected criminal until police arrive to take over. Shopkeeper’s privilege is a similar concept that involves the owner of a store restricting the movement of an individual who has been accused of shoplifting for a short period of time. These common law privileges are often restricted by the circumstances of crimes and actions being considered. Courts have to look at the facts of these situations to determine whether or not a protected privilege was abused and should instead be considered a crime under California Penal Code 237. Also read about Emacipated law

Prosecution of false imprisonment

There is a wide range of penalties for unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another in the state of California. Some individuals may only face a civil punishment for PC 236 violation for individuals who detained or confined a person. This civil penalty is mainly applicable for individuals who run a store and falsely imprison an individual they believe to be shoplifting. The intersection between shopkeeper’s privilege and misdemeanor false imprisonment may lead to the case only being considered as a tort. Felony false imprisonment can carry significant penalties in the state of California. These penalties range from large fines to years in prison. Individuals greatly increase their chances of significant prison time if they detained or confined a person while also committing an act of violent assault or robbery.

What to do

Almost any individual who is accused of felony or misdemeanor false imprisonment will be facing significant punishment for PC 236 violation. They have to go through the bail process. They will be arrested, booked, and held in jail until they can meet bail. If they cannot meet bail through their own funds, they should quickly secure the services of a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman will help provide the money needed for release from jail. Once an individual is released, they should contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney with significant experience in this field of law will be able to tell an individual where they stand and how they should move forward. He or she will be able to collect evidence and find out about witness testimony. They will also be able to negotiate with a prosecutor for a favorable plea bargain for when they unlawfully restrained someone else. A favorable plea bargain for when a person is unlawfully restrained will allow an individual to avoid significant jail time in many instances. Attorneys have to be able to mold their arguments for both a prosecutor and a jury in order to secure the best deal possible for their client.


Felony false imprisonment is a serious crime that can traumatize individuals for years. Courts will prosecute this charge to the fullest extent of the law. Anyone facing prosecution of false imprisonment has to respond in kind. They need to secure the best representation possible and work with that representation in order to craft their defense. An attorney could mean the difference between acquittal and jail time for large numbers of individuals charged with this crime.