Think Twice Before You Falsely Imprison a Hostage to Avoid Arrest

As you’re about to leave the bank…thinking you have just successfully robbed it without being caught…the police surround the building. They demand that you surrender. You’re still intent on escaping, so you grab one of the bank customers and use her as a human shield in order to avoid arrest. With a gun to her head and your other arm around her neck, you drag her out of the bank and into the “get-away” car. Once you are ultimately apprehended, you will face a variety of charges, one of which is California Penal Code 210.5 PC false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest.

When you falsely imprison another person as a hostage or human shield in order to avoid arrest, you commit a felony, punishable by up to eight (8) years in the California state prison.

But because of the very hostile nature of Penal Code 210.5 PC California’s law against falsely imprisoning a hostage to avoid arrest, there are a number of additional charges that this type of situation could easily trigger such as assault, battery and even murder if the hostage is killed (even accidentally) while you are falsely imprisoning her. And, depending on the circumstances, there are also a number of sentencing enhancements that could substantially increase your sentence as well such as causing great bodily injury to the victim, California’s criminal street gang enhancement and personal use of a gun.

So while eight (8) years may not seem so bad in exchange for the possibility of escaping responsibility for a crime, if the false imprisonment hostage situation goes awry, it could end up costing you a life sentence.

False Imprisonment vs. Kidnapping

Penal Code 236 PC California’s false imprisonment law and Penal Code 207 PC California’s kidnapping law are frequently confused and commonly misunderstood.

Many people believe that Penal Code 236 PC California’s false imprisonment law necessarily involves incarceration in a jail or prison. Although false imprisonment may involve such circumstances, it generally doesn’t. Simply put, false imprisonment occurs when you detain, restrain, or confine someone against their will. Felony false imprisonment takes place when you use force or fear to accomplish the detention, confinement, or restraint.

Kidnapping doesn’t necessarily mean taking a child away from his/her parent (although it could). It takes place when you use force or fear to move any person a substantial distance. This means that you can’t kidnap someone without also violating California’s false imprisonment law. If you’ve moved someone against his/her will, you have restricted that individual’s liberty…the core issue in a false imprisonment case.

If fact, because this is the case, even if a prosecutor charges you with kidnapping, a jury could find you not guilty of that offense and yet decide to convict you of false imprisonment instead.