False Imprisonment of a Hostage to Avoid Arrest – California Penal Code 210.5
False imprisonment is the unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another.1 Under California’s Penal Code 210.5, it is unlawful to falsely imprison another for the purposes of using them as a human shield or trying to avoid arrest, thereby increasing the risk of harm to that person. Here are some examples of false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest:
- You rob a bank and before you can escape, the police have you surrounded. You order the teller and some bank customers onto the floor and try to use hostages as leverage to make an escape.
- You are in a custody battle with your former spouse and were not given custody of your child; you are determined to see your child so you pick him up at school and bring him back to your house. Your former spouse calls the authorities to get back your child and have you arrested. The authorities come to your house and you tell police that you will harm your child if they enter your home.
In addition to the above crime, you could be charged with other crimes in connection with falsely imprisoning another to avoid arrest depending on the facts of your case. These include:
- Felony or Misdemeanor False Imprisonment (Penal Codes §§ 236, 237)
- Kidnapping (Penal Codes §§ 209(a), 209(b))
- Attempted False Imprisonment of Hostage (Penal Codes §§ 664, 210.5, 236)
- Robbery (Penal Code §211)
- Battery (Penal Code §§ 242, 243)
- Holding a Hostage (Penal Code § 4503)
Prosecution of PC 210.5
In order to be convicted of false imprisonment of a hostage in violation of California Penal Code 210.5, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:2
- (1) You faced a threat or risk of imminent arrest;
- (2) You restrained, confined, or detained another person by force or by threatening to use force;
- (3) You intended to protect yourself against the threat of imminent arrest by restraining the other person;
- (4) You made the other person stay or go some place against that person’s will; AND
- (5) EITHER:
- (a) You substantially increased the risk of physical or psychological harm when you restrained, confined, or detained that person; OR
- (b) You intended to use that person as a human shield.
Possible Defenses to a False Imprisonment Charge
Our skilled criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich know the legal defenses to Penal Code 210.5. Some defenses might include:
- You were not facing a threat of imminent arrest even if you restrained, confined, or detained another;
- You never used force to restrain, confine, or detain another;
- You did not intend to protect yourself by restraining another;
- You did not make another person stay or go some place against their will;
- You neither increased the risk of physical or emotional harm by your actions, nor did you intend to use another as a human shield;
- Due to your level of intoxication, you could not form the intent required to falsely imprison another for purposes of avoiding arrest; OR
- Self-defense or the defense of others
Sentencing & Punishment for False Imprisonment of a Hostage
If you are convicted of Penal Codes 210.5 you face a sentence of three, five or eight years in state prison.3
In addition, you may also face additional penalties such as fines, and criminal restitution to the victim.
Frequently Asked Questions
What qualifies as being ‘against somebody’s will’?
If one does not consent to the restraint, confinement, or detainment it is against their will. In order to consent, one must freely and voluntarily know the nature of the act they are consenting to.
What qualifies as confinement for purposes of Penal Code 210.5?
It is not necessary that one be confined in a jail or prison. It can be confinement by the use of threats, e.g. “stay here or I’ll shoot you”.
Can I be convicted of falsely imprisoning my own child?
It is possible for you to be charged with false imprisonment by holding your child hostage. If you confine your child with the intent to endanger the child’s health and safety for the purpose of avoiding prosecution, you can be charged with false imprisonment of a hostage if all the elements of Penal Code 210.5 are met.4
Contact Wallin & Klarich if You Have Been Charged with False Imprisonment of a Hostage in Violation of California Penal Code 210.5.
If you or a loved one has been charged with violating California Penal Code 210.5 or any other crime, you need to contact an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney immediately. Wallin & Klarich has been successfully defending clients facing criminal charges for over 40 years. We will meet with you immediately to review the facts of your case, and plan a defense strategy that will help you get the very best outcome possible.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
1. Cal. Pen. Code, § 236↩
4. People v. Checketts (1999) 71 Cal.App.4th 1190, 1195↩