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
Professional, Reliable, and Trustworthy
I reached out to a few different firms after receiving my court details in the mail, but I quickly realized that the McShane firm felt the most consistent and genuinely interested in my case. They’re very passionate about getting you the best results, and communication with attorney Corey Fahnestock was quick and easy. Both attorney Corey Fahnestock and Cassandra Frantz were very helpful and informative as they were consistently updating me whenever a delay or change in terms would occur. Worth every dollar! I highly recommend Corey Fahnestock for anyone serious about seeking true justice!
Justin McShane and his firm are the best in the nation. They handle and win the toughest cases on a regular basis. Justin and his wife are not only trial lawyers but they are also scientist. When a lawyer can combine this type of knowledge, tenacity and trial skills…it’s a work of art. If they will take your case, you are very lucky. When you can’t afford to lost, you call the McShane firm.
I cannot thank them enough for the outcome of my case. Attorney Tim Barrouk was dealing with a client who was on edge, never been arrested, and didn’t trust him 100% in the beginning, but he came recommended so he was my lawyer. I remember offering to hire a second attorney to help and he reassured me he had it under control. After a while it appeared I made a great choice. He knew the pros & cons of every judge my case was assigned to, he knew when to talk and when to listen in court, he didn’t let me take a bad deal, never pressured me, and responded to every text or call I ever placed to him. Cathi Lee kept me updated on where to be and when to be there. and was always available also. I was facing an Aggravated Assault charge causing serious bodily injury, simple assault, unlawful restraint, and 4 other misdemeanor charges and facing up to 10+ years in state prison. I never denied what I did and there was even video of me doing it. At the end of the day, All my charges were dropped and replaced with one summary offense of disorderly conduct and I was sentenced to pay a $25 fine plus court costs. Tim was always honest, and even told me flat out, these charges fit what you did but your case is triable and we’re gonna work for the best outcome. There were no promises or bs, just facts and business. Thank you Tim and the rest of The McShane Firm for getting me justice and not letting me get lost in the system.
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:
- the accused
- knowingly either:
- restrained another person unlawfully in circumstances exposing him to risk of serious bodily injury, or
- held another person in a condition of involuntary servitude.
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.
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.
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.