Unlawful Imprisonment in the First (NY Penal Law 135.10) and Second (NY Penal Law 135.05) Degrees:
False imprisonment is the unlawful restraint of a person against her will by someone without legal authority or justification. For example, an armed bank robber yells at the customers to get down on the floor, threatening to shoot them if they try to leave. Since they know they might be killed if they try to leave, they are being held against their will. The captive bank customers may be able to claim damages, and the bank robber may be charged with the crime of false imprisonment. Even the police may be charged with false imprisonment if they exceed their authority such as detaining someone without justification.
It often takes the trained criminal eye of a New York criminal defense attorney or lawyer to locate and assess the nuances between similar statutes. Deciphering the language between similar statutes could mean the difference between facing a misdemeanor or a violent felony. One example of this found in statutes relating to Kidnapping and Unlawful Imprisonment. Although each of these statutes have their own unique language, at a basic level the difference between Kidnapping (NY Penal Law 135.20 and 125.25) and Unlawful Imprisonment (NY Penal Law 135.05 and 135.10) hinges on two key words defined by statute and interpreted by case law. Those key words are “restrain” and “abduct.” Today’s entry will address the general definitions applicable to Kidnapping and Unlawful Imprisonment. Additionally, I will give an overview of the crimes of Unlawful Imprisonment in the First and Second Degrees. At a later date I will analyze the Kidnapping statute under New York State law.