Restraining someone against their will is not only a poor decision, but it is also illegal and can result in serious criminal charges. Specifically, a person that confines someone without legal authority may be accused of unlawful imprisonment, which is a felony offense. People accused of crimes may fear that they have no chance of proving their innocence, but there are often defenses they can assert to protect their rights and reputation. If you or someone you know has been charged with unlawful imprisonment in Michigan, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a skilled Ann Arbor criminal defense lawyer, and if you hire him, he can examine the facts surrounding your charges and formulate a strategy designed to help you seek the best legal result available under the circumstances. Mr. Bernstein regularly defends people charged with crimes in Ann Arbor and cities throughout Michigan.Unlawful Imprisonment Under Michigan Law
Under Michigan law, a person may be found guilty of unlawful imprisonment if they intentionally restrain another individual under certain circumstances. Specifically, if the person used a weapon or dangerous instrument to restrain the victim or confined the victim to aid in the commission of a felony or to help them flee after committing a felony, it constitutes unlawful imprisonment. It is also considered unlawful imprisonment to secretly confine a person, meaning that the person’s location and confinement are kept a secret.
The applicable law defines restraint as the forcible restriction of a person’s movement or confinement that affects a person’s freedom without the person’s permission or legal authority. Notably, the restraint does not have to last a certain length of time for a person to be charged with unlawful imprisonment. Additionally, unlawful imprisonment may be incidental or related to other crimes, and a person can also be charged with and convicted of other offenses that occurred during the imprisonment. People found guilty of unlawful imprisonment may be sentenced to up to fifteen years in prison and may be fined up to $20,000.00; the courts can also impose both a prison sentence and a fine.Defending Against Unlawful Imprisonment Charges
To establish that a person is guilty of unlawful imprisonment under Michigan law, the State must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, the evidence offered by the State must be so compelling that a reasonable person reviewing the evidence would not have any uncertainty regarding the defendant’s guilt. This is the highest burden of proof, and in many instances, the State fails to meet its burden. As such, a defendant may be able to successfully argue that the evidence is inadequate to sustain a conviction.
Criminal defendants do not have a burden of proof and are not required to demonstrate their innocence at trial. In some cases, though, it may benefit them to offer an affirmative defense. For example, a person charged with unlawful imprisonment may be able to assert that the alleged victim consented to the restriction of their movement. Further, in some cases, a defendant may be able to demonstrate that they had the authority to restrain the person. It is important to note that the exact defenses available will vary depending on the facts of the case.Meet with a Trusted Ann Arbor Lawyer
A conviction for unlawful imprisonment can permanently alter the course of a person’s life, but simply because a person is charged with illegally restraining another individual does not mean that the State has adequate evidence to demonstrate their guilt. If you are accused of unlawful imprisonment or any other crime, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney as soon as possible. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a trusted Ann Arbor criminal defense lawyer who possesses the skills and experience needed to obtain favorable outcomes, and if he represents you, he will advocate zealously on your behalf. Our office is located in Ann Arbor, and we regularly represent parties in criminal matters throughout Michigan, including cities in Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Dearborn, and Flint. You can contact us via our online form or by calling us at (734) 883-9584 to set up a confidential and free meeting.