Unlawful Restraint in PA (Maximums and Defenses)

Unlawful Restraint in PA is a serious misdemeanor offense. it just sounds nasty on your criminal record. A conviction for the crime is like a diamond, it lasts forever. You have to be extremely careful with who you pick to handle this case because picking wrong can ruin your life. When people ask “Who is the best Unlawful Restraint attorney near me?” The people have spoken, it’s The McShane Firm 



The Law

You can read the exact law here: Unlawful Restraint 18 P.S. § 2902

What the government needs to prove

Unlawful Restraint is a very simple statute, but the devil is in the details. As we will see.

Remember at all times, if the government has charged you with any crime including Unlawful Restraint, you are innocent in the eyes of the law. Before you start the eternal you are Not Guilty. You remain that way unless the government can present a mountain of evidence proving your guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to convict you the government must prove the following:

  1. the accused
  2. knowingly either:
    1. restrained another person unlawfully in circumstances exposing him to risk of serious bodily injury, or
    2. held another person in a condition of involuntary servitude. 

When selecting which attorney to hire, please consider:

  • Can you call anytime and talk to a live person?
  • Do they offer payment plans with no credit checks?
  • Will your attorney be attentive and explain what’s going on?

At The McShane Firm, we answer yes to all of these questions. We strive to provide you with a great customer service experience during this tough time.

What is “knowingly” for Unlawful Restraint?

The law defines it as follows:

A person acts knowingly with respect to a material element of an offense when:

(i)  if the element involves the nature of his conduct or the attendant circumstances, he is aware that his conduct is of that nature or that such circumstances exist; and

(ii)  if the element involves a result of his conduct, he is aware that it is practically certain that his conduct will cause such a result.

What the heck does that mean? Well the best way to explain it is by what it is not. Knowing behavior is less than intentional, but more than recklessness or mere negligence.

To put it simply:

  • Intentional means that you are aware of what you are doing and do it on purpose for its intended aim.
  • However, a person acts knowingly when he acts with the certainty that a certain result will follow from his actions.
  • A person acts recklessly if the person does not know for sure that a specific result will follow. Recklessness means that you knowingly take a risk.
  • Negligence occurs when a person unknowingly takes a risk that they should have been aware of..

So in the real world, it means whatever a jury wants it to mean. This is where having the right attorney who can explain how your conduct doesn’t fit the crime can make all of the difference. 

What is Serious Bodily Injury for purposes of Unlawful Restraint?

Pennsylvania defines SBI as follows:

Bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ

What does that actually mean? Well, that is a great question. Some things are clearly SBI such as losing an eye. But it is the grey area where jury trials happen. Does a jury say that the actual injury or the perceived and feared injury make to SBI? That’s the DA’s job to convince beyond a reasonable doubt. If not, you remain as you started innocent.

What is The McShane Difference?

  • We take time to understand your personal needs and goals. Then we cater our legal strategy to fit you.
  • We care about you. We listen and return phone calls. We will take time to explain things so you are not left anxious in the dark.
  • We will make this as easy as possible. We will try to minimize the number of times you have to be in court which means less disruption of your work and family life.

Does this sound like what you are looking for in an attorney? If yes, then take the next step and call (717) 657-3900.

Maximum Penalties

If you are convicted or found guilty of Unlawful Restraint, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree. Beyond the instant concerns you likely have about jail, probation, fines and costs, you need to be aware of Misdemeanor Conviction Consequences in Pennsylvania.

The maximum penalty for all misdemeanors of the first degree in Pennsylvania is a period of jail not to exceed five years. The maximum fine is not to exceed $10,000.00.

Note, the law allows for an enhancement based upon age. It reads:

If the victim of the offense is an individual under 18 years of age, an offense under subsection (a) is a felony of the second degree.

But pursuant to Supreme Court of the United States ruling called Alleyne, this type of enhancement is presumptively unconstitutional and cannot be applied. The age requirement is not an element of the crime. It is not put before the jury. Therefore, it is not proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. That makes it unconstitutional. That type of challenge is not known by a lot of defense attorneys who dabble in criminal defense. The difference here is huge. As the difference is not only measured in years and thousands of dollars (F2 is max of 10 years and $25,000), but in Felony Conviction Consequences in Pennsylvania.

Our Clients are entitled to a Bill of Rights which states:

  • Our clients have the right to expect, we will be proactive in communication. You will hear it from us first. We will return all phone calls, texts and emails promptly.
  • Our clients have the right to expect plain speaking, straight shooting. No B. S.
  • Our clients have the right to expect us to do it right the first time, every time.
  • Our clients have the right to expect us to be on time and professionally prepared for all court appearances, and all meetings.
  • Our clients have the right to expect that they will be fully informed at all times.

This is our promise to you. Call today to get us on your side: (717) 657-3900.

Totally avoid Megan’s Law

If you are convicted of this crime and the victim is under 18, you could face Megan’s Law registration as a Tier 1 offender. That means 15 years of registration. Plus, it makes you potentially designated as a Sexually Violent Predator which is lifetime reporting, monthly counseling and neighborhood reporting.

Because of the Alleyne ruling we just talked about above, you should never ever be found guilty of this enhancement. Therefore, you should never be on Megan’s Law for this offense. Knowledge is power.