Domestic Violence and Unlawful Imprisonment – What You Need to Know

Domestic disputes do not always go peacefully. Sometimes domestic violence happens when romantic partners or family members have relationship problems. On occasion, unlawful imprisonment, can occur or be alleged in these situations. 

A Seattle criminal defense attorney can explain what you need to know about domestic violence and unlawful imprisonment. If you face charges of unlawful imprisonment or domestic violence, you can protect your legal rights by working with a lawyer. 

An Overview of Unlawful Imprisonment in Washington State 

RCW §9A.40.060 defines unlawful imprisonment as knowingly restraining another person. This offense is a Class C felony. 

Let’s say that a husband and wife are having an argument. One person wants to walk out of the room, but the other does not want that to happen. Using physical force, threats, or blocking the exits can provide a basis to charge unlawful imprisonment. What one person might consider as merely a reaction in the heat of the moment could be a serious crime. 

Unlawful imprisonment can also happen in other settings, like a vehicle. If two people who are members of a household or family are driving down the street and one person does not want to stay in the car, the other person cannot force them to remain in the vehicle. Also, holding one person against their will to gain a response from a third party can be unlawful imprisonment. 

When there is no legal authority or consent, it is illegal in our state to substantially interfere with a person’s liberty by restricting that person’s movements. When someone uses deception, force, or intimidation to restrain a person, by definition, the restraint is without consent. 

When someone commits the offense of unlawful imprisonment against a family or household member, the charges can also include domestic violence. Washington’s domestic violence statutes include unlawful imprisonment as one possible form of domestic violence. As a result, it is possible to get charged with two criminal violations after a contentious event with a romantic partner or member of your household or family. 

How a Conviction of Unlawful Imprisonment Can Affect Your Life 

A felony conviction can cause you damage for the rest of your life. Convicted felons lose many civil liberties. Unless you can get the conviction removed from your record, the felony will follow you forever. The odds of getting a crime involving violence removed from your criminal record are slim. 

You will have to report felony convictions every time you apply for a job, an apartment, a mortgage, or another loan, or try to enroll in a college or university. Your dream job or career might no longer be possible. You might have to settle for a second or third choice college instead of the one you expected to attend. 

You and your family will face social stigma if you get a felony conviction. The only way to prevent these negative consequences is to avoid getting the conviction in the first place. A Seattle criminal defense attorney can try to negotiate a plea bargain for you or build a defense to fight the charges. Contact our office today.

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.