Unlawful confinement is when one party confines another party to a certain area without that person's permission. Unlawful confinement is a crime. In order for the confinement to be unlawful, the person doing the confinement must not possess the legal authority to confine the person in question.
So, for example, if a corrections officer confines a convicted felon to a prison to serve their sentence, it would not be considered as unlawful confinement. This would be because the corrections officer would possess the full legal authority to complete the confinement.
However, if a person who was not a law enforcement member tried to confine someone to a certain area, such as their house, this would be unlawful confinement. The reason is because the person would not have the legal authority to make such a confinement.
Common Features of Unlawful Confinement
Unlawful confinement is often completed with the use of force, or with the implied threat of force. For example, if a person orders another person to remain in a certain area and points a gun at them while doing so, this would be unlawful confinement by threat of force.
Unlawful confinement is commonly carried out during robberies or other similar crimes. In such circumstances, the robbers (or other criminals) may have a specific need to keep certain people in certain areas. For example, robbers may force hostages inside a bank to stay inside of the bank for hours, or even days, until the rest of the plan is executed.
However, unlawful confinement can occur on its own, too, without being part of another crime. For various reasons, one party may choose to unlawfully confine another party in a specific location, such as a building or a house. Unless they have the legal authority to do this, they are breaking the law and can face jail time for this crime.
Unlawful Confinement and International Law
Unlawful confinement is a highly relevant area in international law. The reason for this is because militaries can often get involved in situations where they may be tempted to unlawfully confine people or soldiers from another country.
However, many people are protected from unlawful confinement under the terms of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Because of this fact, unlawful confinement in violation of the Geneva Conventions is a war crime.
In order for confinement to qualify as unlawful in international law, the person or persons confined must have Geneva Conventions protection, the victim must be confined against their will, and this confinement must be related to some sort of international conflict that involves the use of arms.
Any nation that unlawfully confines people can be prosecuted for war crimes. If found guilty, they can face the consequences associated with these crimes.
Similarity to Other Crimes
Unlawful confinement is very similar to both kidnapping and false imprisonment.
Kidnapping often also involves the unlawful confinement of a person against their will. However, with kidnapping, there is a higher emphasis on the unlawful transportation of the individual. Kidnapping is also frequently used by adults who are trying to steal and transport children or minors. Furthermore, people who kidnap other people often do it for the purpose of earning ransom money.
False imprisonment is essentially identical unlawful confinement. False imprisonment also involves a person being held against their will, often by force or by the threat of force. However, if a person is accidentally held against their will, for example if they are accidentally locked in a bathroom at the mall, this does not qualify as false imprisonment.
The Legal Consequences
The punishment for unlawful confinement can be severe. However, the degree to which people convicted of unlawful confinement are punished depends on the severity of the confinement. For example, someone who holds another person against their will for an hour is likely to receive a lesser sentence than someone who holds another person against their will for a year.
The severity of the punishment also depends on whether or not the unlawful confinement is associated with another crime, such as armed robbery. The more severe the circumstances associated with the unlawful confinement, the more severe the sentence can be. It is not uncommon for people convicted of unlawful confinement to be sentenced to years in prison.