False Imprisonment in Colorado— C.R.S. 18-3-303

The crime of false imprisonment can arise in Colorado from obvious conduct like locking someone in a room against his or her will for days or by blocking the doorway of your spouse during an argument. Even though you don't intend to "imprison" anyone, the district attorney in Denver, Arapahoe or Douglas counties will still charge you with this easy-to-commit crime. Fortunately, the Colorado Legislature has differentiated between a felony version of false imprisonment and a misdemeanor version. The difference between the two is based on whether force is used and the length of the confinement.

False imprisonment is charged in Jefferson, Adams or Weld counties when someone knowingly detains or confines someone else without that person's permission and without the lawful authority to do so. Obviously, because police have lawful authority to detain people against their will, this crime rarely applies to them. It is charged as either a Class 2 misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year in the county jail) or a Class 5 felony (punishable by up to three years in prison), depending on whether force is used or threatened, and if the victim is detained longer than 12 hours. For felony charges to be proven, both the force and time period elements must apply.

The difficulty with this crime is that the misdemeanor version can be committed by simply blocking the doorway. This commonly occurs between family members during an argument, and no one is intending to violate the law or physically hurt another. Police in Larimer and Grand counties will readily identify this charge in a domestic violence case, just like they look for the elements of Harassment, C.R.S. 18-9-111. Both charges can occur without any real physical violence and result from seemingly innocent conduct.

We have defended many cases of false imprisonment in Colorado. The felony version is rarely charged and the misdemeanor is frequently charged. The best advice we can offer is to refrain from any physical contact and don't confine another person at any time. When in an argument, take frequent breaks to regain perspective and don't let the argument become too heated.

If you are charged with misdemeanor or felony false imprisonment, you need an experienced criminal lawyer at your side before the judge and jury. Don't hire a part-time criminal attorney who also does divorces. Your criminal record and freedom are too important to risk the conviction. If you or a loved one is contacted by police, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

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