False Imprisonment Crime in Minnesota

The false imprisonment crime in Minnesota is a very serious offense because of both the criminal sanctions and collateral consequences that stem from it. Not only is a defendant looking at possible time in prison or local custody, but a conviction in any charge of the entire case can lead to the requirement to register as a sex offender. This type of consequence can be extremely penal and inconsistent with the allegations, as the false imprisonment crime can be charged out in non-sex crimes. With all this at stake, it’s important to understand the nuance of an otherwise vaguely worded crime.

What is False Imprisonment?

The false imprisonment crime is defined as follows: whoever, knowingly lacking lawful authority to do so, intentionally confines or restrains someone else’s child under the age of 18 years without consent of the child’s parent or legal custodian, or any other person without the person’s consent, is guilty of false imprisonment. To put it more simply, it is the confining or restraining of another person without their consent. So, what does it mean to “confine or restrain.” That’s the most important aspect of the false imprisonment crime because simply reading that leaves a lot of ambiguity.

The Minnesota standard jury instructions elaborates on what “confine or restrain” means: “to deprive a person of the freedom to go where the person pleases and is lawfully entitled to go, or to leave the place where the person is. The restraint or confinement may include the use of physical barriers, the use of physical force, or the threat of the immediate use of physical force if the person confined or restrained reasonably believes that the person making the threat has the ability to carry out the threat.” So, the jury instructions provide some guidance about how the use of physical barriers, force, or the threat of force can equate to false imprisonment. But, simply depriving a person of where they want to go might be enough, too? Seems a bit loose in the definition. And, unfortunately, turning to case law does not provide much clarity.

Cases involving taking a victim to a secluded field to commit further crimes, bounding and gagging a victim while committing a crime, locking a victim in a room, and holding victims at gunpoint and threatening them if they call the police have all been found to justify a false imprisonment conviction. Meanwhile, a child being hung upside down on multiple occasions for a few minutes each while the adult took pictures was not sufficient for false imprisonment. In that case, the Court focused on the fact that the defendant lacked the specific intent to commit the false imprisonment crime. As the cases point to, there is usually a combination of barriers, force, or threats in play for the false imprisonment crime.

Criminal Penalties and Collateral Consequences

False imprisonment is a felony-level offense. While it is a presumptive probationary outcome – meaning a defendant would not serve prison time – there is still the high likelihood that local custody, a significant probationary period, and a high fine would be included in any sentence. Beyond that, though, the collateral consequences are particularly troublesome. The criminal record for this type of crime is one that will undoubtedly raise red flags for anyone applying for a job, housing, professional license, etc. And, likely worst of all, the defendant will have to register as a sex offender. Needless to say, both of these collateral consequences will be felt by the defendant for a long time, well after the criminal sanctions are completed.


The false imprisonment crime is a specific intent crime. This means the defendant must have specifically intended to confine or restrain the person. Depending on the circumstances of the crime, this arguably may be absent. One such tactic could be to argue that the facts used to make the false imprisonment allegation are not criminal significant enough to justify the charge when it was part of the acts relating to other charged offenses. Another defense could be the voluntary intoxication defense, which only applies to strict liability crimes. And, of course, doing a diligent analysis of the facts and conducting further investigation can lead to the development of more case-specific defenses.

Minnesota False Imprisonment Criminal Lawyers

It is absolutely critical to hire a false imprisonment attorney to help you fight this case if you are facing this charge. As you can see above, the statutory language for this crime is broadly written and can apply to many instances that simply should not result in a false imprisonment charge. Hiring a Minnesota criminal defense lawyer that understands this charge, the nuances of it, and how to combat is a must. Contact Minnesota defense lawyers at North Star Criminal Defense now.



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