Unlawful restraint is a criminal offense in Texas and involves intentionally or knowingly restraining another individual. While statutes vary depending on jurisdiction, most cities have some version of unlawful restraint molded into local statutes. There are five things that law-abiding citizens should know about unlawful restraint in Texas:
- Charged. Unlawful restraint is defined in Section 20.02 of the Texas Penal Code as intentionally or knowingly restraining another person. Experts claim that the statute is deliberately broad in an attempt to cover a wide range of possibilities and situations. Notably, lawful arrests performed by police officers or citizens are legal and do not fall under unlawful restraint as the proper authority was previously vested.
- Punishment. Typically, a conviction for unlawful restraint in Texas is punished as a Class A misdemeanor; however, there are several ways that such a penalty may be increased to a felony level. The charge may be elevated to a Third-Degree Felony if the actor recklessly exposed the victim, restrained a public servant while that servant was lawfully discharging an official duty, and/or the actor restrained another individual while in custody.
- Statute Definitions. Chapter 20 of the Texas Penal Code defines a “person” to not only mean an individual, but also a corporation or an association. Likewise, if a business were to take action against an individual and restrain them, that business could then be charged with unlawful restraint. Restraint is defined under Section 20.01(1) of the Texas Penal Code as restricting a person’s movements without consent, so as to interfere substantially with the person’s liberty, by moving the person from one place to another or by confining the person.
- Defenses. While being charged with a crime is not ideal, there are some ways to defend against an unlawful restraint accusation if charged. If an individual unlawfully restrained someone, but the circumstances were such that certain conditions were met, that individual’s attorney could assert an affirmative defense.
- Representation. Whether an individual was a victim or alleged perpetrator of unlawful restraint, retaining an experienced attorney can help lessen the burdens of the judicial process. Obtaining representation can help ease the process for all parties involved.
As previously mentioned, unlawful restraint is a criminal charge that could translate to a misdemeanor or even a felony stain on an individual’s record if convicted. Criminal convictions can complicate every other aspect of an individual’s life, including housing, voting, and educational opportunities. Consequently, it is imperative that individuals involved in an unlawful restraint suit seek help from a lawyer, such as a criminal defense lawyer from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, and know the most important aspects of the charge.