The crime of “Unlawful Restraint” is a bit unusual. It is a broadly written and liberally enforced criminal statute that applies to scenarios where someone’s freedom or liberty has been restricted or restrained. In Connecticut, this crime can be charged in violent scenarios (a chokehold, handcuffing, or zip-tieing of someone’s hands together), or in not-so-violent situations (i.e. barricading someone inside a bedroom, locking someone is a closet, or blocking someone in a car with your car). As any of the best Stamford criminal lawyers have observed, they have seen Unlawful Restraint arrests in a variety of scenarios: domestic violence cases, bar fights, kidnapping cases, and assault crimes.
Connecticut lawmakers have divided the Unlawful Restraint crime into First and Second Degree, both of which are distinguished and explained below in detail. So if you have been arrested in Greenwich, New Canaan, Darien or Stamford for Unlawful Restraint, you should contact a top Stamford criminal lawyer right away to learn how to effectively defend yourself against your Stamford Unlawful Restraint charges.Unlawful Restraint in the Second Degree (CGS 53a-96) & Its Penalties
You can be arrested in Stamford, Greenwich or anywhere else in Connecticut for Unlawful Restraint in the Second Degree if you restrain another person and interfere with that person’s liberty, or prevent that person from exercising freedom of movement. The statute is codified in C.G.S. § 53a-96. As with many other Connecticut crimes of violence, this crime requires specific intent, meaning it must have been your specific intention to interfere with the restrained individual’s liberty. The restraint can result from moving a person from one place to another. In this circumstance, there is no distance requirement that must be satisfied. Physically carrying someone and body-slamming them would therefore qualify. As top Greenwich criminal lawyers and attorneys have observed, Second Degree 53a-96 Unlawful Restraint can also occur from simply confining another person. Movement is not necessary at all. It is enough that you have merely confined a person from leaving a place where he or she already was. In either case, there is no minimum or maximum timeframe that must be satisfied for the commission of this crime. In other words, you can be guilty of this crime whether you have restrained someone for two minutes or two hours. If, however, the person being restrained voluntarily consented to the restraint (that is, the consent did not result from force or fear), then you have not committed any crime.
Unlawful Restraint in the Second Degree is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year in jail, a maximum $2,000 fine, and probation.Unlawful Restraint in the First Degree (CGS 53a-95) & Its Penalties
The more serious charge is First Degree Unlawful Restraint, which has been classified as a felony by Connecticut lawmakers. Yet there is very little that sets this felony 53a-95 Unlawful Restraint charge apart from its misdemeanor counterpart. Unlawful Restraint in the First Degree under CGS 53a-95 requires the presence of one additional element – that the restraint involved posed a substantial risk of physical injury to the individual being restrained. Actual injury is not necessary.
Unlawful Restraint in the First Degree is a Class D felony and is punishable by a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and probation.What’s the Difference between Unlawful Restraint and Kidnapping?
As the best Stamford and Greenwich criminal lawyers would agree, the key element of a Connecticut kidnapping arrest is an abduction as opposed to simple restraint. You are guilty of Kidnapping in the Second Degree – C.G.S. 53a-94, when you abduct another person. Kidnapping in the First Degree – C.G.S. 53a-92, requires abduction of a person with the intention to accomplish any of the following specific objectives: (1) to acquire ransom or terrorize a third party; (2) to injure, sexually abuse, or terrorize the person kidnapped; (3) to advance the commission of any felony; or (4) to interfere with a government function. The penalties for kidnapping are far more severe than those for unlawful restraint. Kidnapping in the First Degree is a Class A felony punishable by a 10 to 25 year sentence and a fine of up to $20,000. Kidnapping in the Second Degree is a class B felony carrying a sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $15,000.Fighting Your Unlawful Restraint Charges
In fighting Unlawful Restraint arrests in Stamford, Darien, New Canaan and Greenwich, we have often focused on challenging the “intent” requirement of the charge. Especially in self-defense cases where our clients have had to restrict someone’s liberty and freedom of movement to protect themselves, or a friend or family member from an assailant. It is completely justified for you to tie someone up who has tried to assault you—yet there are times when police come to a fight scene after it’s over and will arrest everyone at the scene and let the court system resolve the case.
The criminal lawyers at the Mark Sherman Law firm take nothing for granted in fighting Stamford Unlawful Restraint arrest charges. We will carefully examine all of the evidence, witness statements and surveillance footage available. If needed, we will enlist our team of private investigators to canvass the crime scene and take additional witness statements if it will bolster your defense. In many cases, the alleged accuser’s credibility and reputation is at issue, requiring us to motion the Court to allow us to dig deep into an accuser’s lives, employment, personal relationships, medical history, and social media. The Stamford criminal lawyers at Mark Sherman Law leave nothing to chance or assumption, as we want to provide you with the best defense possible. We will inform you of the viability of your defenses, and provide you with honest assessments of the potential consequences of fighting your charges at trial.Am I Eligible for any First-Time Offender Programs if I’m Arrested in Connecticut for 53a-96 Unlawful Restraint?
Absolutely. If you have been arrested for First or Second Degree Unlawful Restraint in Stamford, Westport, Wilton, Darien, New Canaan, or Greenwich, and you are a first time offender, then you will usually be eligible for the Accelerated Pretrial Rehabilitation Program (also known as “AR”). Getting AR is neither automatic nor easy. It is a privilege not an entitlement granted by the Connecticut Superior Court. At your hearing on your AR application, the Connecticut state prosecutor will have a right to be heard and object, and so will the alleged victim(s) of your Connecticut Unlawful Restraint arrest. It is therefore recommended that you hire a top Stamford criminal attorney and lawyer to assist you in all stages of your Accelerated Rehabilitation application process. If granted, you will then be placed into supervision for a maximum two–year time period. If you successfully complete the AR program, then your Unlawful Restraint charges will be dismissed in their entirety and wiped clean from your criminal arrest record.Unlawful Restraint in Domestic Violence Arrests
We see Connecticut Unlawful Restraint charges often in Greenwich, Norwalk and Stamford domestic violence arrests. Fighting spouses and feuding family members will often put their hands on one another and restrain them in some way, shape or form. The restraint is usually applied in self-defense, yet somehow the defensive spouse will finds himself or herself arrested for Unlawful Restraint even though they were trying to de-escalate an emotionally and physically volatile domestic violence incident. That’s where top Stamford Connecticut domestic violence criminal lawyers come in to disarm the prosecutor’s case by presenting an aggressive defense in cases like these. A top Stamford domestic violence criminal lawyer should not let these charges stick in scenarios like these. Therefore, if you have been arrested for Unlawful Restraint in a Connecticut domestic violence case, make sure you consult with a top Connecticut criminal lawyer before going to court.Victim Representation for Stamford Connecticut Unlawful Restraint Arrests
Finally, the Mark Sherman Law Firm’s victim representation practice offers services and resources for victims of Stamford and Greenwich arrests for Unlawful Restraint. Led by our in-house victim advocate Christine Bartlett, the firm will work with victims of these crimes to make sure their voices, court requests, and safety concerns are being adequately advocated for during the pre-trial and trial stages of the assailant’s criminal case. As attorneys for Unlawful Restraint victims, the Mark Sherman Law firm lawyers will attend each court hearing, and more importantly, each pre-trial discussion with the prosecutor and judge—many of which take place in the judge’s chambers. We can also work quickly with victims to apply for civil restraining orders or request a criminal “no-contact” order in connection with the pending criminal case. So if you are a victim of a Stamford Unlawful Restraint arrest, then be sure to contact a member of our Victim Representation group today.Contact a Stamford Unlawful Restraint Criminal Lawyer Today
As you can see, there are many reasons to fight a Greenwich or Stamford arrest for Unlawful Restraint under 53a-95 or 53a-96. However, you must work quickly to get in front of your criminal unlawful restraint charges or you can find yourself quickly mired in the legal process without a clear defense strategy or pathway to resolution. The team of Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyers and attorneys at Mark Sherman Law will work quickly with you to formulate the most cost-effective defense to your Stamford, Greenwich, Darien or New Canaan Unlawful Restraint arrest. And alternatively, if you are a victim of Unlawful Restraint, then we can help you advocate your position to the judge and prosecutors handling your case. In either event, our “two-attorney” review process ensures your case will be scrutinized carefully by at least two of our experienced criminal attorneys. So give us a call to set up a consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (203) 358-4700.Related Links:
- Domestic Violence Charges
- Domestic Violence Victim Representation
- The Pre-Trial Accelerated Rehabilitation Program (“AR”)
- Strangulation Crimes
- Scrubbing the Internet of Your Online Arrest Records
- Restraining Orders
- Violation of Restraining Orders / Protective Orders