Unlawful Restraint

While it often does not seem that way, unlawful restraint is a violent crime in Texas that can carry serious penalties. An unlawful restraint is similar to a kidnapping, although it does not involve an abduction.

While unlawful restraint can be a misdemeanor offense, there are also several cases that can result in felony charges. Any person accused of one of these crimes should not hesitate to seek legal representation.

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Unlawful Restraint Defense Lawyer in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, TX

Were you recently arrested for an alleged unlawful restraint offense anywhere in Denton, you are going to need a criminal defense attorney in order to overcome the situation. Our firm understands the most effective ways to fight unlawful restraint charges.

Call (940) 222-8004 or contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about your alleged offense in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, and surrounding areas of Denton County, Texas. We can then better understand the nature of your charges and also examine your possible defense options.

Unlawful Restraint Charges in Texas

Texas Penal Code § 20.02 establishes that a person commits an unlawful restrain offense if they intentionally or knowingly restrain another person. Under Texas Penal Code § 20.01(1), restrain is defined as restricting another person’s movements without consent, so as to interfere substantially with their liberty, by moving them from one place to another, or by confining the person.

Restraint is without consent when it is accomplished by force, intimidation, deception, or any means, including acquiescence of the alleged victim, if the alleged victim is a child who is less than 14 years of age or an incompetent person and the parent, guardian, or person or institution acting in loco parentis has not acquiesced in the movement or confinement, or the alleged victim is a child who is 14 years of age or older and younger than 17 years of age, the alleged victim is taken outside of the state and outside a 120-mile radius from the alleged victim’s residence, and the parent, guardian, or person or institution acting in loco parentis has not acquiesced in the movement.

Texas Penal Code § 20.02(b) states that affirmative defenses against these charges may include the person restrained being a child younger than 14 years of age, the alleged offender being a relative of the child, and the alleged offender’s sole intent being to assume lawful control of the child. Under Texas Penal Code § 20.02(e), it is also an affirmative defense that the person restrained was a child who is 14 years of age or older and younger than 17 years of age, the alleged offender did not restrain the child by force, intimidation, or deception, and the alleged offender is not more than three years older than the child.

Denton County Unlawful Restraint Penalties

An unlawful restraint conviction is a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction can be punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.

When the person restrained was a child less than 17 years of age, then the offense becomes a state jail felony. In these cases, convictions become punishable by up to two years in state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

When an alleged offender recklessly exposes an alleged victim to a substantial risk of serious bodily injury, an alleged offender restrains an individual they know is a public servant while the public servant is lawfully discharging an official duty or in retaliation or on account of an exercise of official power or performance of an official duty as a public servant, or the alleged offender while in custody restrains any other person, the crime is a third-degree felony. A conviction may be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

When an alleged offender restrains an individual they know is a peace officer or judge while the officer or judge is lawfully discharging an official duty, or in retaliation or on account of an exercise of official power or performance of an official duty as a peace officer or judge, the crime is a second-degree felony. In these cases, convictions are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

When Unlawful Restraint Becomes Kidnapping in Texas

An unlawful restraint turns into a kidnapping when the offense satisfies all of the statutory elements of a criminal offense. Texas Penal Code § 20.03 defines a kidnapping offense as involving an alleged offender intentionally or knowingly abducting another person.

Under Texas Penal Code § 20.01(2), abduct means to restrain a person with intent to prevent his liberation by secreting or holding them in a place where they are not likely to be found or using or threatening to use deadly force. Kidnapping is a third-degree felony.

Texas Penal Code § 20.04 defines an offense as aggravated kidnapping when they intentionally or knowingly abduct another person with the intent to hold them for ransom or reward, use them as a shield or hostage, facilitate the commission of a felony, or the flight after the attempt or commission of a felony, inflict bodily injury on them or violate or abuse them sexually, terrorize them or a third person, or interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function. This is a first-degree felony that is punishable by 99 years or life in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Denton, TX Unlawful Restraint Resources

Laster v. State, 275 S.W.3d 512 (Tex. Crim. App. 2009) — Tommy G. Laster appealed his conviction and claimed that the evidence against him was legally and factually insufficient, but the Forth Worth Court of Appeals stated that circumstantial evidence of intent was reviewed less rigorously than other elements of an offense. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas said this statement was incorrect but upheld Laster’s conviction because the evidence was legally and factually sufficient. Laster was charged with injury to a child and attempted aggravated kidnapping. The jury convicted him of both counts, and the trial judge sentenced Laster to twenty years’ confinement for injuring a child and forty years’ confinement for attempting to kidnap. In a dissent, Cathy Cochran wrote that the case was not an attempted kidnapping case or an attempted aggravated kidnapping case but an unlawful restraint case.

Prudholm v. State, 333 S.W.3d 590 (Tex. Crim. App. 2011) — This case was an appeal from a sentence enhanced under Texas Penal Code § 12.42(c)(2), which mandates a life sentence for an alleged offender convicted of a sex-related offense listed in Subsection (A) if the defendant has been previously convicted of an offense listed in Subsection (B), or an offense “under the laws of another state containing elements that are substantially similar to the elements” of a Texas offense listed in Subsection (B). This case required the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas to decide whether the California offense of sexual battery contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of the Texas offenses of sexual assault or aggravated kidnapping. The court noted that aggravated kidnapping presented what was a closer question, because the difference between the sexual elements of the offenses involved was worth noting in that sexual battery contained a conduct element requiring the touching of an intimate part while aggravated kidnapping contained a specific intent element requiring the intent to commit a non-consensual sex act. More importantly, sexual battery requires only an “unlawful restraint,” which is interpreted as the control of a person’s liberty, against his will, by words, acts, or authority of the perpetrator aimed at depriving the person’s liberty. Aggravated kidnapping, on the other hand, requires an “abduction,” which is an “unlawful restraint” — a substantial interference with the person’s liberty, by moving the person from one place to another or by confining the person — committed with the specific intent to prevent the victim’s liberation by secreting or holding him in a place where he is not likely to be found or using or threatening to use deadly force. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas wrote that the distinct individual interests protected by the restraint elements supported its conclusion. The California “unlawful restraint” element protects individuals’ liberty interests, while the Texas “abduction” element goes beyond protecting liberty interests to protect against the considerable risk of death or serious bodily injury involved in an abduction.

Find A Collin County Attorney for Unlawful Restraint Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

If you were arrested for an unlawful restraint crime in Denton or a surrounding area of Denton County, do not delay in getting yourself the legal help you will need to overcome your criminal charges. It will be critical for you to work with a criminal defense lawyer who understands your criminal charges and the most effective ways of fighting them.

Call (940) 222-8004 or contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about your alleged offense in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, and surrounding areas of Denton County, Texas. We can then better understand the nature of your charges and also examine your possible defense options.