The crime of unlawful restraint is similar to kidnapping but essentially a lesser offense. Under state law in Texas, kidnapping involves an alleged offender intentionally or knowingly abducting an alleged victim while unlawful restraint only involves an alleged offender intentionally or knowingly restraining another person.

As a result, people are commonly charged with unlawful restraint when prosecutors might not have the necessary evidence to prove a kidnapping offense. While an unlawful restraint charge might not seem as serious as a kidnapping offense, alleged offenders should still take these accusations seriously as certain crimes can be classified as felony offenses that carry steep penalties.

Attorney for Unlawful Restraint Arrests in Georgetown, TX

Were you arrested in Central Texas for allegedly committing an unlawful restraint crime? Even if you believe that you did absolutely nothing wrong, you should still avoid making any kind of statement to authorities until you have contacted Price & Twine, PLLC.

Georgetown criminal defense lawyer Michael J. Price aggressively defends clients accused of violent crimes all over Williamson County and Bell County, including Liberty Hill, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Harker Heights, Hutto, Belton, and many other surrounding areas. He can provide an honest and through evaluation of your case when you call (512) 354-1880 to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.

Overview of Unlawful Restraint Crimes in Texas

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Unlawful Restraint Charges in Williamson County

Texas Penal Code § 20.02 establishes that a person commits unlawful restraint if he or she intentionally or knowingly restrains another person. The term restrain is defined under Texas Penal Code § 20.01(1) as meaning “to restrict a person’s movements without consent, so as to interfere substantially with the person’s liberty, by moving the person from one place to another or by confining the person.”

Restraint is considered “without consent” if it is accomplished by force, intimidation, or deception or any means—including acquiescence of the victim—if:

  • the victim is a child who is less than 14 years of age or an incompetent person and the parent, guardian, or person or institution acting in loco parentis has not acquiesced in the movement or confinement;  or
  • the victim is a child who is 14 years of age or older and younger than 17 years of age, the victim is taken outside of the state and outside a 120-mile radius from the victim’s residence, and the parent, guardian, or person or institution acting in loco parentis has not acquiesced in the movement.

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Unlawful Restraint Penalties in Georgetown

Unlawful restraint is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. If the alleged victim was a child younger than 17 years of age, unlawful restraint becomes a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000

Unlawful restraint is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if:

  • the alleged offender recklessly exposes the alleged victim to a substantial risk of serious bodily injury;
  • the alleged offender restrains an individual the alleged offender knows is a public servant while the public servant is lawfully discharging an official duty or in retaliation or on account of an exercise of official power or performance of an official duty as a public servant;  or
  • the alleged offender while in custody restrains any other person.

Texas Penal Code § 20.02(b) and Texas Penal Code § 20.02(e) establishes that affirmative defenses to these charges include:

  • the alleged victim restrained was a child younger than 14 years of age, the alleged offender was a relative of the child, and the alleged offender’s sole intent was to assume lawful control of the child; or
  • the alleged victim restrained was a child who is 14 years of age or older and younger than 17 years of age, the alleged offender did not restrain the child by force, intimidation, or deception, and the alleged offender was not more than three years older than the child.

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Texas Resources for Unlawful Restraint Offenses

Guymon v. State, PD-0465-03 (Tex.Cr.App. 2005) — James Thomas Guymon was tried by a jury and found guilty of kidnapping and unlawful restraint of a child after a deputy noticed an 11-year-old child who was high on paint sitting in the passenger seat of Guymon’s car when he was stopped by police for driving on the shoulder and having expired license plates. The Thirteenth Court of Appeals vacated the unlawful restraint conviction on double-jeopardy grounds, but affirmed the kidnapping conviction and life sentence. On January 12, 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction for kidnapping and remanded the case to the court of appeals to reconsider its decision relating to the unlawful restrain charge.

Laster v. State, PD-1276-07 (Tex.Cr.App. 2009) — On January 30, 2005, Tommy G. Laster grabbed the arm and put his arm around the waist of an 8-year-old girl and struggled with the girl’s 10-year-old brother before releasing the child when a car honked its horn. Police later arrested Laster and charged him with injury to a child and attempted aggravated kidnapping, and he was convicted on both counts. The Second Court of Appeals and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals both affirmed these convictions, but Judge Cathy Cochran wrote in a dissenting opinion:

I respectfully dissent. I do not agree with the majority of the court of appeals that a 1 rational trier of fact could conclude from the evidence in this case, beyond a reasonable doubt, that appellant (1) had a specific intent to hold or secrete eight-year-old Beatrice in a place where she was unlikely to be found, much less (2) had a specific intent to perform one of the other acts–such as holding her for ransom, using her as a shield, inflicting bodily injury on her or abusing her sexually–that is required for aggravated kidnapping. This is not an attempted kidnapping case. And it is certainly not an attempted aggravated kidnapping case. This is an unlawful restraint case.

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Price & Twine, PLLC | Georgetown Unlawful Restraint Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with unlawful restraint in Central Texas, it will be in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Price & Twine, PLLC represents people accused of violent crimes in Leander, Round Rock, Taylor, Temple, Killeen, and several other nearby communities in Williamson County and Bell County.

Michael J. Price is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Georgetown who can fight to possibly get these criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (512) 354-1880 or complete an online contact form to have our lawyer review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free initial consultation.


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