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Attorney Chris Van Wagner said, "The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision was more than a legal ruling; it was a slap in the face," Van Wagner said, "This, no question about it, is a major affront to the government in many ways. Most significantly, it said you should have never brought this case." When a Wisconsin woman was wrongfully imprisoned for false accusations made against her by the district attorney.
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False Imprisonment

Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney Christopher Van Wagner & Drunk Driving Defense Attorney Tracey Wood

False imprisonment is intentional confinement or restriction upon a person without consent and without authority to do so. False imprisonment is a Class H felony subject to the penalties provided for a Class H felony.


An accidental confinement without intent to cause a confinement is not a crime. However, even an accidental confinement that later becomes an intentional confinement is criminal. The confinement must have occurred intentionally - with the actual mental intent to confine another person.

Confinement & Restraint

The crime of false imprisonment occurs when a person is confined to a space without a reasonable means of escape and restrained (prevented from leaving that space). Any confinement or any restraint will meet the burden of the elements of the crime so long as the confinement is complete and the restraint is sufficient to cause the person to either be completely restrained to a specific area or to reasonably believe that such a constraint exists.

If the confined person has a path of escape and can leave the area without restraint or harm, then there is no confinement. In other words, if a room has four doors and three are blocked, but one is open and the person could leave through that open door without substantial harm and no threat is made or force implied in any manner causing the person to remain in the room, that person is not confined. But if a person would reasonably believe that some harm would befall them if they left through the open door, a confinement has occurred.

Likewise, the statute does not provide a list of the types of restraints that are illegal. Any restraint upon another person without consent is a violation against that person. For that matter, a person can be confined to a city and restrained by threat.

The confined person need not resist confinement or restraint, nor seek a method of escape for the crime of false imprisonment to occur.


The confinement must be unlawful. Whether the confinement is lawful depends on several factors, but the customary condition is that the person causing the confinement has a privilege under the law to do so. Police are privileged to confine a person who is either in process of being arrested or has been arrested. A citizen is privileged to confine another citizen in the process of making a lawful citizen's arrest.

Class H Felony Penalties

A Class H felony carries penalties of a fine of up to $25,000, imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both. The penalties are increased if the convicted felon is a repeat offender.

Expert Advise From Madison's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers

The attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood have represented people accused of false imprisonment, kidnapping, and domestic terrorism, to name a few of the more unusual charges alleged by police in the state of Wisconsin. Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner is a former federal prosecutor, a former state prosecutor, a Wisconsin Super Lawyer, and the only attorney in Wisconsin to have ever been three times awarded the Martin Hanson Advocate's prize. Attorney Tracey Wood is the first Wisconsin attorney ever to be appointed to the Board of Regents for the NCDD, was the first Wisconsin attorney ever appointed as a SFST instructor, and won an outright acquittal in the largest military conspiracy case ever known. The winning record of those attorneys evidences their hard work, intelligent strategical legal expertise in handling cases, and their true commitment to every client.

If you have been accused of committing the crime of false imprisonment, if you are under investigation, or if you have already been convicted and believe your conviction or sentence was wrong, please contact the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood right away for a brief free but professional first impression analysis of the case against you. If possible, please call ( in the Madison area, or statewide) the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood for a brief but professional free first-impression analysis of your case. You can also send your case information online, or email the attorneys.


False imprisonment is not a lesser included crime to kidnapping. False imprisonment is similar to kidnapping, with distinguishing differences. False imprisonment requires that a person is taking into custody by another person; kidnapping requires the same element. False imprisonment requires that the person taken into custody is confined against his will and without his consent; kidnapping requires the same element. False imprisonment requires that the person be restrained against his will; kidnapping requires the same element. False imprisonment does not require that the constrained person be moved; however, kidnapping requires that the person taken is also moved from one place to at lease one other place, even if to another room in the same building. False imprisonment does not include a demand for ransom; kidnapping often encompasses a demand for ransom, but it is not a required element of the crime.