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SF Sheriff Pleads Guilty to False Imprisonment

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on March 12, 2012 1:21 PM

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to false imprisonment in a deal that effectively ends his high-profile domestic-violence case.

Mirkarimi, 50, was charged with domestic violence, battery, child endangerment, and dissuading a witness in connection with an alleged incident involving his wife, the San Francisco Examiner reports. Those charges were dropped in exchange for Mirkarimi's guilty plea on a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge.

So what is false imprisonment?

False imprisonment is the intentional, unlawful restraint of a person against that person's will. "Restraint" can include acts of physical force, the use of physical barriers, or even acts of unreasonable duress -- such as holding "hostage" something of value to force a person to stay in a certain place.

Defenses to false imprisonment include the voluntary consent of the person being confined, or the making of a citizen's arrest.

In San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's case, he pleaded guilty to false imprisonment after an appeals court ruled that home video of his wife could be used at trial, the Associated Press reports. The video showed Mirkarimi's wife, actress Eliana Lopez, describing an argument in which Mirkarimi grabbed her arm and left a bruise.

Mirkarimi's alleged grabbing of his wife's arm to prevent her from leaving their house during the argument is likely the basis of the false imprisonment charge.

Lopez has said she did not want to press charges. But prosecutors pursued the case anyway, and won a restraining order that prevents Mirkarimi from seeing his wife and 2-year-old son.

The stay-away order, which Lopez insists was politically motivated, remains in place.

Under the plea deal, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi faces three years of probation and a year of counseling when he is sentenced for false imprisonment on March 19, the AP reports. Mirkarimi must also pay a $590 fine and attend parenting classes.

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