What Are the Penalties for Unlawful Restraint in Texas?

You are probably very familiar with the term “kidnapping” but there’s a similar offense that can lead to criminal prosecution and under Section 20.02 of the Texas Penal Code, it’s called “unlawful restraint.” If you restricted another person’s liberty and their ability to move freely, you could be facing a criminal prosecution.

What does the state mean by the word restraint? According to Sec. 20.01(1), it means to “restrict 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.” Restraint is without “consent” when the wrongdoer accomplishes it by:

  • Force
  • Threats
  • Intimidation
  • Deception
  • Any means, including through the victim’s acquiescence

Sec. 20.02(a) says: “A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly restrains another person.” The crime of unlawful restraint can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, a state jail felony, or as a felony of the third degree depending on the facts of the case.

Generally, unlawful restraint is a Class A misdemeanor, but it is a state jail felony if the victim was a child under the age of 17. It is a felony of the third degree if the offender placed the victim in serious risk of bodily danger.

Examples of unlawful restraint:

  • During a volatile breakup, a man forces his girlfriend to stay at his house, not allowing her to leave.
  • A witness to a crime wants to go to the police, but the actors force him to stay at their home so he can’t report it to law enforcement.
  • A woman quits her job, but her angry boss won’t let her leave the workplace.
  • A former employee goes to his last place of employment, threatens to hurt his former co-worker and won’t let her leave the office. He forces her to stay there and listen to his angry rants.
  • A husband and wife are fighting in a hotel room and the husband won’t let his wife leave the room.
  • A worker is done with her shift and her female boss refuses to let her leave and go home. When the worker tries to leave, her boss locks the doors and won’t let her out of the building.

As a Class A misdemeanor, unlawful restraint is punishable by up to one year in jail and by a maximum fine of $4,000. As a state jail felony, it’s punishable by up to two years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $10,000. As a third-degree felony, it’s punishable by up to ten years in jail and by a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Need a Plano criminal defense lawyer? Contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC to schedule your initial case evaluation.


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