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What is Unlawful Restraint in Texas?


Have you been accused of unlawfully restraining another person in Texas? If so, what does “unlawful restraint” mean and what does the crime involve? Under Section 20.02 of the Texas Penal Code, a person commits the offense of unlawful restraint when they intentionally or knowingly restrain a person against their will.

An example of unlawful restraint can be locking another person in a bedroom against their will, or forcing someone to sit in a car when they want to get out, or holding a person’s hands behind their back and not letting them move freely or leave when they ask or demand to be let go.

Sometimes, a person will be charged with unlawful restraint because they made an unruly child “sit in time out” or go “stay in their bedroom” because of their bad behavior. In such cases involving children under the age of 14, it is an affirmative defense if the person:

  • Restrained a minor who was under the age of 14 and the defendant was a relative; OR
  • The defendant’s only intention was to assume lawful control of the minor;
  • The child restrained was 14, 15, or 16 years-of-age;
  • The defendant did not use force, intimidation, or deception to restrain a child; and
  • The defendant is not more than three years older than the child who was restrained.

Penalties for Unlawful Restraint in Texas

Unlawful restraint is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine not to exceed $4,000, or both, however, it is a felony of the third degree if the child was under the age of 17 and the defendant was reckless and exposed the child to a substantial risk of serious bodily injury. As a third degree felony, unlawful restraint is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison, or by a fine not to exceed $10,000, or by both a fine and imprisonment.

Are you facing criminal charges for unlawful restraint? If so, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with Derek A. Adame, Attorney at Law.

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