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Unlawful Restraint

Unlawful restraint is an illegal offense similar to kidnapping, however there is no actual abduction. The crime is defined as restraining another person in a place or dwelling against their will under the Texas Penal Code Section 20.02. The consequences for committing unlawful restraint are great as the crime carries heavy penalties. If you’re convicted, you may be sentenced to pay steep court fines and spend time behind bars.

Prosecutors tend to file unlawful restraint charges when they don’t have enough evidence to convict a person of kidnapping. Although unlawful restraint is not as severe as kidnapping, it’s still a felony offense. A conviction will mean you’ll have a felony violent crime on your record and could be a major roadblock when seeking employment or a federal loan. For these reasons and more, we highly recommend you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you’ve been arrested with unlawful restraint.

Unlawful Restraint Brownsville Attorney | Cameron County, TX

Confining any person against their will can constitute as unlawful restraint under Texas law. If you’ve been charged with unlawful restraint, kidnapping, or any criminal offense, it’s within your best interests to contact The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. Johnathan Gracia and his legal team are experienced violent crimes attorneys in Brownsville who will work tirelessly to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Call The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. today at 956-504-2211 to review your case and discuss all your legal options. The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. accepts clients throughout all parts of Cameron County and surrounding counties including Willacy County and Hidalgo County, Texas.

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What is Unlawful Restraint?

The crime of unlawful restraint can be found under Section 20.02 of the Texas Penal Code. According to Texas law, a person commits the offense of unlawful restraint if they intentionally and knowingly restrain another person against their will. The code defines the term “restrain” as any type of action by the defendant to restrict a person’s movement without their consent.

The law goes on to define that restraining another person “without consent” is defined as:

  • Confining or restraining another person through force, intimidation, or deception
  • Confining or restraining another person without the authorization of their parent or legal guardian.

There are a few exceptions according to Texas statutes. The law provides several affirmative defenses to the prosecution, these include:

  • The restrained person was a minor under the age of 14; and
  • The defendant is the child’s relative; and
  • The defendant’s only intent was to assume lawful control of the minor

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Texas Penal Code Unlawful Restraint

Unlawful restraint is a serious charge that carries long-lasting consequences if you’re convicted. Under Texas laws, unlawful restraint without any aggravating factors is a class A misdemeanor. The Texas Penal Code states a class A misdemeanor is punishable by:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $4,000

If the victim restrained or confined is under the age of 17, then the offense will be classified as a state jail felony. The maximum punishment you can receive for a state jail felony includes the following:

  • Up to 2 years in state jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000.

The offense will be reclassified to a third-degree felony if any of the following factors were present during the commission of the crime.

  • Expose the restrained person to a substantial risk
  • Restrain or confine a public servant unlawfully
  • Restrain or confine another person while in custody

If convicted of a third-degree felony, you’ll face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Unlawfully restraining a judge or peace office will result in a second-degree felony. The maximum punishment for a second-degree felony is up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.


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Is Unlawful Restraint Kidnapping?

It’s common for people to interchange the terms kidnapping and unlawful restraint. Although the terms have similar meanings, they are in fact two separate crimes. While both kidnapping and unlawful restraint share the element that the victim must be confined against their will, kidnapping has an additional element that sets them apart.

To face kidnapping charges in Texas, you must abduct someone. Meaning you must take another person from one area to another without their consent and not allow any chance of escape. Most kidnapping cases include an element of force or violent threats in order to keep the victim compliant.

Kidnapping is a third-degree felony punishable by:

  • Up to 10 years in prison; and
  • A possible fine of up to $10,000.

If any of the following occurs during the commission of the crime, the offense will be reclassified to a first-degree felony.

  • The victim is confined as a hostage or used as a shield
  • The victim is held for ransom
  • The victim is physically and sexually harmed
  • The victim was abducted after the defendant fled from a felony
  • The victim was abducted during the commission of a felony
  • The defendant terrorized the victim
  • The defendant showed a deadly weapon during the kidnapping
  • Interferes with the proceedings of a government or political event

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Additional Resources

Unlawful Restraint Texas Penal Code Section 20.02– Visit the official website for Texas state laws to find more information about unlawful restraint and other similar violent offenses. Access the statutes to learn the elements of the charge, aggravating factors, and other important information you may need.

Guymon v. State – Read about James Thomas Guymon, a man who was found guilty of kidnapping and unlawful restraint of a child. Guymon was charged with the crime after a deputy noticed a 11-year old child who was high on paint in the passenger seat of Guymon’s vehicle. The vehicle was stopped on the shoulder by the deputy and had expired license plates. Guymon was convicted but the Thirteenth Court of Appeals vacated the unlawful restraint conviction. On January 12, 2005, the Court of Criminal Appeals stated that the evidence was insufficient to support a kidnapping conviction and renamed for the court of appeals to reconsider the unlawful restraint charge.


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Cameron County Lawyer for Unlawful Restraint | Brownsville Violent Crimes Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with unlawful restraint, we highly encourage you to contact The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. . Our criminal defense lawyers have decades of combined experience we can utilize to protect your rights and freedom. Don’t wait another moment to start your defense and call The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. today.

Call The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. at 956-504-2211 to set up your first consultation with an experienced Brownsville unlawful restraint attorney.


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