Unlawful Restraint in Texas


Unlawful restraint in Texas is generally a class A misdemeanor, but can be a state jail felony if the victim was younger than 17 years of age. Unlawful restraint can also be a third or second degree felony under certain circumstances.

In Texas, unlawful restraint is considered a lesser-included offense of kidnapping. The difference between kidnapping and unlawful restraint in Texas is often just a matter of degree. There are also different levels of kidnapping, including aggravated kidnapping.

In Texas, unlawful restraint only requires that the person intentionally or knowingly restrain another person. The term “restrain” is defined by statute to mean restricting a person’s movements without consent, so as to interfere substantially with the person’s liberty, either by moving the person from one place to the another or by confining the person. Tex. Penal Code §20.01(1).

Restraint is without consent if it is accomplished by force, intimidation or deception or if the victim is a child under 17 years old and the parent or other person with legal authority did not agree to the movement or confinement. Tex. Penal Code §20.01(1).

What is the difference between kidnapping and unlawful restraint in Texas?

Unlike kidnapping in Texas, unlawful restraint does not require proof that the person was secreted or held in a place that the victim was not likely to be found. Unlawful restraint also does not require proof that deadly force was threatened or used.

When is unlawful restraint a third degree felony?

Unlawful restraint in Texas becomes a third degree felony if the defendant: (1) recklessly exposes the victim to a substantial risk of serious bodily injury, (2) restrains a public servant in retaliation of or while the public servant is legally discharging an official duty, or (3) restrains a person while the defendant is in custody.

When is unlawful restraint a second degree felony?

Unlawful restraint in Texas is a second degree felony if the defendant restrains a peace officer or judge in retaliation or while the officer or judge is lawfully discharging an official duty.

How to defend against an unlawful restraint case?

If you are charged with unlawful restraint in Texas, first you need to make sure you retain a knowledgeable local criminal defense attorney to help you strategize a defense that is best for your particular circumstances.

Many times, unlawful restraint cases come down to a “he said, she said” scenario and those types of cases are often the ones that will require a trial if the State refuses to dismiss the case.

Second, you need to understand that even if the unlawful restraint charge is only a misdemeanor, the offense of unlawful restraint is still subject to a finding of family violence in Texas.

A finding of family violence can have a devastating impact on your career, child custody rights, housing and gun rights. It can also expose you to the possibility of being charged with a felony if you are ever rightfully or wrongfully accused of a subsequent family violence offense.

Be prepared to fight any unlawful restraint case as you would any other family violence case and do not assume that just because it does not have family violence in the title that it can not have a devastating impact on your future.

Can I be charged with unlawfully restraining my child?

It is an affirmative defense to unlawful restraint in Texas if the person restrained was a child under 14 years of age, the child was a relative of the accused, and the sole intent of the restraint was to assume lawful control of the child.

Can I be charged with unlawful restraint if I perform a citizen’s arrest?

It is a defense to unlawful restraint in Texas if the detention or movement of another is done for the purpose of effecting a lawful arrest or detaining a person that is lawfully arrested. However, the actor must have proper statutory authority to conduct the citizen’s arrest for the defense to apply.

“Jodi Soyars represented me on a very long and arduous case with multiple resets. In all my case lasted 1 1/2 years and the final outcome was dismissal. I had been offered and accepted to pretrial diversion but declined because I was innocent of the charge. Jodi stood firm for me and never stopped working hard on my behalf. I highly recommend Soyars & Morgan law if you are in need!”

Ken K.

Navigating an Unlawful Restraint Accusation

It’s critical to have a knowledgeable and competent legal team on your side if you’re accused with unlawful restraint in Texas.

At Soyars & Morgan Law, we are knowledgeable with the subtleties of the law and can assist you in creating a strong defense to safeguard your rights and future.

Our attorneys will fight tenaciously to defend you in court by reviewing the evidence, negotiating with the prosecution, and performing our analysis with subject matter experts.

To arrange a consultation and find out more about how we can assist you in navigating the complex legal system, get in touch with us today.

Call (210) 390-0000 or email us
now to schedule your free consultation!