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False Imprisonment of Hostage to Avoid Arrest – California Penal Code 210.5

The crime of “false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest” is described under California Penal Code 210.5, which is a specific charge that is related to Penal Code 236, false imprisonment, which makes it a crime to unlawfully restrain or confine someone without their consent.

There are situations where someone will grab another individual and hold them as a hostage or even use them as a type of human shield in an attempt to prevent an arrest, which increases the risk of harm to the victim. This type of conduct is referred to as false imprisonment of a hostage or false imprisonment to protect against an arrest.

False imprisonment is the unlawful violation of someone's personal liberty. In simple terms, Penal Code 210.5 makes it unlawful to falsely imprison another person to use them as a human shield, or to use them to avoid arrest that increases the risk of harm to them.

For example, let's say someone commits armed robbery of a convenience store. During the robbery, one of the customers who was unseen in the back of the store calls police. They arrive quickly before the robber can leave the store. Since the robber doesn't want to be arrested, he points his gun at the clerk, grabs and holds him, and shouts at the police standing outside not to enter the store or he will shoot the clerk.

In this scenario, the robber could be charged with robbery under California Penal Code 211, and false imprisonment of a hostage under Penal Code 210.5.   

Another example can be found in a domestic violence situation. Let's say someone is in a hotly contested child custody battle with their spouse. During custody proceedings, they are not allowed to have visitation, so they decide to pick up the child from daycare and return to their home. The spouse calls police who respond to the home, but they tell the police officers they will hurt the child if they come in.

To give readers a better understanding of false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest charges, our California criminal defense attorneys are providing an outline below.

Definition of PC 210.5 False Imprisonment of Hostage

California Penal Code 210.5 defines false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest as:

Anyone who commits the crime of false imprisonment defined under Penal Code 236, against someone for the purposes of protection from arrest, which significantly increases the risk of harm to the victim, or for the purpose of using them as a shield is punishable by imprisonment for up to eight years.

It should be noted that Penal Code 236, false imprisonment, is the unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another person. In simple terms, you commit a PC 236 false imprisonment crime when you detain, confine, or restrain someone without their consent.

As you can see, PC 236 and 210.5 are similar to kidnapping under Penal Code 207, but a kidnapping charge requires a defendant to move someone a substantial distance. When someone is just held or restrained against their will, it's considered a false imprisonment.

What Must the Prosecutor Prove?

In order to be convicted of false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest in violation of California Penal Code 210.5, the prosecutor must be able to prove all the elements of the crime, beyond any reasonable doubt. These crucial factors are listed under CALCRIM 1241 Jury Instructions, that the defendant:

  • Faced a threat or a risk of imminent arrest
  • Restrained, confined, or detained someone using force or by threats to use force
  • Intended to protect themselves against threat of imminent arrest by restraining someone
  • Made the victim stay or go somewhere against their will, and either
  • Substantially increased the risk of harm to victim when you restrained or detained them
  • Intended to use the victim as a human shield

It should be noted that in order to give someone consent, they must act freely and voluntarily and have to know the exact nature of what they are consenting to.

If convicted of false imprisonment of a hostage to avoid arrest in violation of California Penal Code 210.5, it's a felony crime that carries three, five, or eight years in a state prison.

There are sentencing enhancements that could add additional time in prison. For example, if the victim suffers great bodily harm as a result of the false imprisonment, a defendant can face an additional six years in prison under California Penal Code 12022.7, great bodily injury enhancement

Related California Offense for Penal Code 210.5

Penal Code 236 – False Imprisonment Penal Code 664/210.5 – Attempt False Imprisonment of Hostage Penal Code 209 – Kidnapping Penal Code 211 – Robbery Penal Code 242 – Battery Penal Code 4502 – Holding a Hostage

It should be noted you could be charged with these related crimes above in connection with falsely imprisoning another person to avoid arrest depending on the facts of your case.

Fighting False Imprisonment of Hostage Charges

If you have been charged with false imprisonment of a hostage described under California Penal Code Section 210.5, our criminal defense attorneys can use a wide range of potential strategies in an effort to obtain the best possible outcome. Let's review some common defenses below.

We might be able to make an argument you never used force to restrain, confine, or detain another person as required under the elements of the crime above. Perhaps we could argue you were not facing a threat of imminent arrest even in a situation where you did restrain, confine, or detained another person.

Perhaps we could make an argument you didn't intend to protect yourself by restraining someone, or that you didn't make the other person stay or go somewhere against their will. Maybe we could prove you didn't increase the risk of physical or emotional harm to the victim from your conduct, or prove you didn't intend to use the victim as a human shield.

False imprisonment of a hostage under Penal Code 210.5 is a serious felony crime that carries severe penalties if convicted. Early intervention by or law firm can be critical to the resolution of the case.

Prefiling intervention may be possible to avoid the formal filing of criminal charges. We may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser offense or even get the case dismissed.

Eisner Gorin LLP is a nationally recognized criminal defense law firm located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067. We also have an office located in the San Fernando Valley at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401. Contact us for a consultation at (310) 328-3776.

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