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California Court of Appeal Clarifies “Force” Requirement of False Imprisonment – PC Section 236-237

In the recent case of People v. Santos Dominguez (2010) 2010 WL 60237 (hereafter Dominguez), the California Court of Appeal held that the amount of force required for false imprisonment of an unresisting infant or child is the amount of physical force required to take and carry the child away a substantial distance for an illegal purpose or with an illegal intent. The court also clarified what constitutes “violence, menace, fraud or deceit” for felony false imprisonment.

In Dominguez, the defendant lived in the same apartment building as two female girls, ages four and six. The defendant did not know the two girls and was not related to either of them. According to the prosecution, the defendant repeatedly hugged the two girls, twice asked the six-year-old where her mother was, and told the six-year-old he wanted to take her to a restaurant. The defendant physically carried the four-year-old outside of the apartment building while the six-year-old followed. When the defendant came upon another man in the building, the defendant stopped and put the four-year-old down.

The defendant claimed he never saw the two girls before the incident and denied picking up or touching the four-year-old. The defendant said that he was merely trying to stop the girls from leaving the apartment building gate to play, wanting them to stay inside. The defendant denied asking the girls if they wanted to go to a restaurant.

The defendant was convicted and sentenced to state prison. On appeal, the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to support either the felony false imprisonment charge against the four-year-old or the misdemeanor false imprisonment charge against the 6-year-old. The Court of Appeal rejected both contentions and affirmed the judgment. The court noted that the amount of force required to falsely imprison an unresisting infant or child is simply the amount of physical force required to take and carry the child away a substantial distance for an illegal purpose or with an illegal intent. The defendant’s actions in picking up one girl and attempting to carry her out of the apartment building gate while the other girl followed, was sufficient to meet the take and carry away element. In addition, because the defendant in a previous case had been convicted of molesting two other minors, the jury was entitled to infer an “illegal purpose” or “illegal intent.”

If you or a loved one has any questions regarding false imprisonment, kidnapping or the appeals process, please don’t hesitate in contacting the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. The Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been handling serious felony trials and appeals for over 30 years. Contact Wallin & Klarich today at 1-888-280-6839 to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys about your case, and visit us on the web at www.wklaw.com.

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