State v. Robinson

In State v. Robinson, 20 Wn. App. 882, 582 P.2d 580 (1978), aff'd 92 Wn.2d 357, 597 P.2d 892 (1979), the defendant appealed his conviction of unlawful imprisonment. Under Washington law, unlawful imprisonment required knowingly restricting a person's movements without their consent "in a manner which interferes substantially with his liberty." 20 Wn. App. at 883-84. The evidence at trial alleged the defendant pulled up along a high school student walking home and asked if she wanted a ride. He apparently went around the block and pulled up to the student again. The defendant jumped out of his car, chased the girl, grabbed her arm, and attempted to pull her toward his car. He reportedly said, "Do what I say or else." 20 Wn. App. at 883. The girl fought back, was quickly released, and ran away. The restraint lasted approximately 1 minute. In deciding the defendant's conduct amounted to "unlawful imprisonment," the intermediate appellate court stated: "'Substantial' is here used as an adjective to mean a 'real' or 'material' interference with the liberty of another as contrasted with a petty annoyance, a slight inconvenience, or an imaginary conflict. . . . It intended more serious conduct than stopping someone on the street in a mistaken belief as to the person's identity or facetiously pushing an elevator button so as to take another occupant beyond the floor which he or she intended to go. Yet, unlawful imprisonment was to be a lesser offense than kidnapping as that crime is now defined." 20 Wn. App. at 884-85. While the court did not specifically reject the defendant's contention that a specific quantum of time or distance must be attached to the term "substantial," it concluded, based on the circumstances of the case, that the statute had been satisfied.