When Can You Be Charged with Criminal Restraint Under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-2?

Criminal restraint is a little-known but serious charge under N.J.S.A. § 2C:13-2.  If you or a loved one has been arrested for criminal restraint in Atlantic City, or another location in the Jersey Shore area, you should contact the aggressive defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych for assistance.  We have over 40 years of experience representing adults and juveniles charged with criminal restraint in Cape May County and Atlantic County, New Jersey.  To set up a free legal consultation, call our law offices as soon as possible at (609) 616-4956.

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What is the Legal Definition of Criminal Restraint Under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-2?

Criminal restraint is defined by N.J.S.A. § 2C:13-2.  In accordance with this statute, a person can be charged with committing this offense when he or she allegedly does either of the following:

  • J.S.A. § 2C:13-2(a) – “Restrains another unlawfully in circumstances exposing the other to risk of serious bodily injury.”
    • The term “serious bodily injury” is not merely descriptive; it has a specific legal meaning. Serious bodily injury is defined under N.J.S.A. § 2C:11-1(b) to mean an injury that either “creates a substantial risk of death,” “causes serious, permanent disfigurement,” or results in the “protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
  • J.S.A. § 2C:13-2(b) – “Holds another in a condition of involuntary servitude.”
    • This includes giving someone false information that leads them to believe they must remain imprisoned – for example, telling someone that a loved one will be harmed or killed if they attempt to escape or leave.

Criminal restraint is closely related to several offenses, such as kidnapping, which is the more serious of the two offenses.  Conversely, a skilled defense lawyer may be able to have criminal restraint charges reduced to false imprisonment, which, as a disorderly persons offense under N.J.S.A. § 2C: 2C:13-3, is a lesser charge with lighter penalties.   Penalties for criminal restraint and false imprisonment are discussed in the section below.

What Are the Possible Defenses Against Criminal Restraint Charges?

The statute provides a possible defense that may be used against criminal restraint charges brought under N.J.S.A. § 2C:13-2(b).  If accused of holding someone in involuntary servitude, it is a defense that the person being held was a juvenile (under age 18), if the defendant:

  • Was related to the juvenile, or was acting as their legal guardian.
  • Acted solely to “assume control of” the juvenile.

Both of these conditions must be met in order for this to be used as an affirmative defense.

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Fines and Sentencing for Criminal Restraint and False Imprisonment in New Jersey

States generally categorize minor crimes as misdemeanors, while very serious offenses are classified as felonies.  In New Jersey, felonies are called “indictable crimes” or “indictable offenses,” while misdemeanors are referred to as “disorderly persons offenses.”

Indictable crimes, which are the more serious group of offenses, are separated into four categories: crimes of the fourth degree, crimes of the third degree, crimes of the second degree, and crimes of the first degree.

Criminal restraint is a crime, or felony, of the third degree.  New Jersey criminal penalties for a third degree crime may include a prison sentence of three to five years, in addition to an expensive criminal fine of $15,000.  Moreover, you will receive a felony record, which can be a major obstacle when it comes to employment and career development.

In some cases, it is possible to have criminal restraint charges reduced to false imprisonment charges.  The attorneys of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych will carefully analyze your case to develop a defense strategy that is designed to resolve your case with minimal negative consequences.

Though still very serious, false imprisonment is a disorderly persons offense, not an indictable crime.  Not only are the penalties less severe, it can also be much easier to find employment with a misdemeanor record instead of a felony record.  The penalties for a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey are up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in criminal fines.

If You’ve Been Arrested, Get Legal Help from an Experienced Atlantic City Defense Lawyer

If you or someone you love has been arrested in New Jersey for criminal restraint or related offenses like kidnapping or false imprisonment, it is critically important that you are represented at trial by a highly knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney.  It may be possible to have your charges reduced, or even dropped altogether.

To set up a free legal consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.  We handle criminal charges throughout the Atlantic County and Cape May County area, including Atlantic City, Dennis Township, Egg Harbor Township, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township, Hammonton, Ocean City, Pleasantville, and beyond.  Your information will be kept confidential.