The consequences of a kidnapping conviction can vary and be extremely serious, following you for the rest of your life, particularly if you lack skilled representation. An experienced violent crimes defense attorney will defend and protect your rights. My Rights Law have a proven track record of success. Call (888) 702-8882 or reach out through our secure form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
In California, several statutes deal with kidnapping. Generally, you can be found guilty of kidnapping under California law if you are guilty of moving a person a substantial distance without their consent through force, fear, or fraud. According to Safeatlast, over 600,000 people go missing, and around 5,000 children are kidnapped every year. In California, according to the California Department of Justice, in 2021, approximately 2,500 individuals went missing in circumstances that appear to be an abduction.
To convict someone of kidnapping, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant moved the person a substantial distance, without their consent, by fear, force, or fraud.
Movement Of The Person
The determination of whether the movement of a person constitutes substantial movement depends on a number of factors, including:
The distance moved,
Whether the movement increased the risk of harm to the victim, and
Whether the movement decreased the likelihood of the victim being rescued or the defendant from being caught.
For example, an individual can be moved from one room to another in a hotel, and it will constitute kidnapping if the other two elements are met, and the movement was to decrease the likelihood of the offender being caught. However, if they move you within one room, it will not constitute the movement of a person for a substantial distance.
If the alleged victim consented to be moved, it could not be a kidnapping. However, understanding the third element is essential to understanding consent entirely. Even if the alleged victim voluntarily goes with the offender, if the consent results from force, fear, or fraud, the consent is likely not voluntary.
By Fear, Force, Or Fraud
Lastly, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant moved the individual through fear, force, or fraud for a conviction to occur. Fear and force mean that you physically force someone to move, or you threaten to inflict imminent physical harm to them if they do not move. For example, this element will be satisfied if the offender had a gun pointed at the victim and said, “I will shoot you if you do not get in the car.”
On the other hand, fraud only occurs under aggravating circumstances, like kidnapping someone to sell them into slavery. Fraud is deliberate deception to secure personal gain. For example, suppose someone lies and says they are a photographer. However, they are attempting to sell someone into slavery. If they get someone to go with them under the illusion that they are a photographer and the person “voluntarily” goes with them, that constitutes fraud and will still be considered kidnapping.
Penalties For Kidnapping
The penalty for kidnapping depends on the type of kidnapping. Kidnapping is always a felony in California, regardless of the kind of kidnapping.
Kidnapping someone without exceptional circumstances will result in a felony that is punishable by between three to eight years in prison and a maximum of a $10,000 fine.
Kidnapping A Child Under 14 Years Old
If the defendant kidnapped a child, even if it was their child that they did not have consent to take, the defendant may receive a sentence of five, eight, or eleven years in prison.
Aggravated kidnapping occurs when someone is kidnapped during the commission of another crime such as a robbery, rape, or extortion. For aggravated kidnapping, the prosecution must prove that the defendant kidnapped the individual during the commission or with the intent to commit the underlying crime. Aggravated kidnapping will result in five, eight, or eleven years in prison.
Kidnapping During A Carjacking
If a carjacker kidnaps someone while they are committing a carjacking, they may receive life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Defenses To A Kidnapping Charge
Several defenses may apply if someone is charged with kidnapping, including:
Consent to be moved.
Present but not the kidnapper.
One of the elements of kidnapping is the movement of a person without their consent. Therefore, if they voluntarily consented to be moved, a conviction for kidnapping cannot occur. For example, you ask someone if they want to go for a drive, but you do not tell them where you are going if they later protest that they did not intend to go to another state with you. Therefore, if they consented to go for a drive, it cannot generally be considered kidnapping. However, if they protest at some point during the drive before you reach the destination and you continue to move against their wishes, it can constitute kidnapping.
Another element of kidnapping is that the culprit moved the victim a substantial distance. Therefore, if the culprit moved the victim only a slight distance, a kidnapping likely has not occurred.
Present But Not The Kidnapper
This defense is complex because in most situations, even if you were not the original kidnapper, if you help with the continuation of the kidnapping, you can be charged as an accomplice to kidnapping. Therefore, if this is the circumstances surrounding you or someone you know charged with kidnapping, it is important that you consult an attorney right away.
If you are the parent of a child and have the parental right to travel with them, you cannot be convicted of kidnapping. However, suppose you are only allowed to travel with your child within your given state unless you have the consent of the child’s other parent per court order. In that case, you may be convicted of deprivation of a child custody order.
You may still be convicted of kidnapping if you are the child’s parent but do not have the right to travel with your child. Although, for example, there is a court order providing the child’s other parent full legal and physical custody, you cannot lawfully travel with your child and can be charged with kidnapping your child.
In some circumstances, California law provides that acts that appear to be kidnapping on the surface cannot result in a kidnapping conviction. These circumstances include:
Kidnapping a child in order to protect them from the danger of imminent harm. For example, if the child’s parent is an imminent threat to the child, it does not constitute kidnapping if the child is taken for protection without the parent’s consent.
A person is being placed under citizen’s arrest.
A citizens arrest may occur when a citizen and not an officer detains someone for the police for the following reasons:
They witnessed the detainee commit a felony,
They have a reasonable cause to believe that the individual committed the felony, or
They know the person committed the felony.
My Rights Law California Kidnapping Lawyer
A kidnapping offense is a felony under both federal and state law, requiring the assistance of a California kidnapping attorney. In general, the unlawful seizure, confinement, and/or moving of the victim for the specific purpose of ransom will bring kidnapping charges and could land you in a California state prison.
Kidnapping may be committed by a stranger, or someone known to the victim. It can also occur when a family member or parent violates a custody order and kidnaps a child without the other parents’ consent. In these types of cases, it is best to hire a California kidnapping attorney. If a child is moved across state lines during a kidnapping, it could result in a federal offense under federal kidnapping laws. Under the Lindbergh Law, or Federal Kidnapping Act, a kidnapping that involves the movement of a victim across state lines may be punishable by a prison term of up to 20 years.
The Federal Kidnapping Act provides for even harsher penalties if the victim is under the age of 18 and the kidnapper is over the age of 18 and not a close family member and/or legal custodian. In these cases, a kidnapping defense attorney is crucial to retain because the kidnapping offense is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison. If you are facing charges for kidnapping, it is extremely important to consult with California kidnapping lawyers at My Rights Law. A criminal lawyer at our firm can review your case, determine if any defenses are available to you, and represent you during any court proceedings. Contact a kidnapping defense lawyer at My Rights Law for a free consultation today.
Call My Rights Law’s Kidnapping Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with kidnapping, you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you. My Rights Law understand the law, process, and prosecution’s tactics to help protect your rights and interests. Call (888) 702-8882 or reach out through our secure form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
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