What’s the Difference Between Kidnapping and False Imprisonment?

Kidnapping and False ImprisonmentIf you’re reading this post, there’s a high chance that you’re human, and as a human being in this country, you have basic human rights. Freedom of movement is a primary human right that, when violated, can result in serious criminal penalties. 

False imprisonment and kidnapping are two primary examples of one’s freedom of movement being restricted. While they may seem similar, it’s essential to know the ways they differ, since it can mean the difference between misdemeanor and felony charges.

What is Kidnapping in Florida?

Kidnapping is often the first offense to come to mind when someone mentions the displacement of one individual by another — and rightfully so. It’s the action of moving a person from one place to another that differentiates kidnapping from any other crime. 

According to Florida Statute § 787.01(1)(a), one commits the crime of kidnapping when he or she “forcibly, secretly, or by threat confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person against her or his will and without lawful authority.”

But that’s not all. One must also have the intent to do one or more of the following:

  • Hold for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage.
  • Commit or facilitate the commission of any felony.
  • Inflict bodily harm on or terrorize the victim or another person.
  • Interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.

For example, a man who grabs his neighbor entering her apartment and pulls her into his can be charged with kidnapping. However, if that same man knocks on her door, forces his way in, and tells her she cannot leave, he can face charges for false imprisonment.

What is False Imprisonment in Florida?

Per Florida Statute § 787.07, false imprisonment — contrary to kidnapping — is a third-degree felony instead of a first-degree felony. However, false imprisonment is often tacked onto kidnapping charges depending on the specifics of the case which can effectively lengthen a sentence. 

As previously mentioned, the primary factor that separates false imprisonment from kidnapping is the action of moving a person. Any action that involves you confining an individual to a particular space against their will is considered false imprisonment. A false imprisonment conviction is punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

These penalties can be intensified when aggravating factors arise, such as when the perpetrator makes threats or uses physical force.

The Possibility Criminal Penalties and Civil Action

Although less severe than kidnapping in terms of the degree of the felony, those convicted of false imprisonment can also face a civil suit from the victim. This means that alongside the possibility of serving time in prison and paying thousands of dollars in fines to the court, you can also be ordered to pay damages to the victim. 

Some of the most commonly sought after damages in a false imprisonment case include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional injuries
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of earning ability

As someone facing legal action for the alleged commission of kidnapping or false imprisonment, you’ll require legal representation from a qualified attorney.

Get Help Fighting Your Criminal Charges

The team of Orlando kidnapping defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm possess more than 100 years of combined experience and past careers as state and local prosecutors. We apply our insight from being on both sides of the law to your benefit as we fight to have your criminal penalties lessened or dropped altogether. Contact our team of Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyers today at 407-228-3838 for a free case evaluation.