Kidnapping

Kidnapping

What is considered kidnapping in California?

In the State of California, kidnapping is defined as moving a victim a significant distance against their will by means of force or manipulating by fear. Kidnapping differs slightly from child abduction. The kidnapping of a child is a more specific type of kidnapping in which a child under the age of 14 is typically taken and held for a ransom. Statistically, the cities where kidnapping most commonly happens are Phoenix, Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston and Chicago. Kidnapping is a federal offense that is often connected with other crimes as well. Those who are facing kidnapping charges may also be facing charges of false imprisonment, sex crimes and even human trafficking.

California Penal Code § 207-210 details the crime of kidnapping as well as the punishments for the crime. Since this is such a severe felony offense, the punishment can be up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This punishment applies to those who are convicted of "seizing, confining, enticing, abducting, concealing or carrying away another person by any means whatsoever with the intent to hold or detail for ransom." Individuals who are convicted of kidnapping and not holding the individual for ransom may be punished with a state prison term of three, five, eight or 11 years.

The punishments will vary to fit the nature of the crime. The court will likely take into consideration factors such as how much force was used to accomplish the kidnapping, was there any money involved and what was the purpose and intent behind the kidnapping. In California law, the victim has to have been moved a "substantial distance," which means that simply moving an individual from one room to another will likely not constitute kidnapping. However, if the threat of danger is heightened by that moving, then the court may consider the moving of even a small distance to be kidnapping.

Family Abductions

One phenomenon that happens in California is the kidnapping of family members. This is called family abduction, and it is commonly seen in cases of divorce, separation or cases where there is abuse going on in the family. Organizations such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention are just some of those that are leading the way in family abduction prevention. There are many cases in which a non-custodial parent will take possession of their children, when this is actually a violation of their divorce agreement and may also constitute kidnapping. Some individuals become afraid for their children's safety because of family violence so they file a restraining order. This order will prevent an individual from coming near certain people in the family. If the individual who has a restraining order against them takes possession of a child, even their child, this can warrant a kidnapping charge.

Defenses against These Charges

It is, unfortunately, not uncommon for kidnapping charges to arise out of false accusations. If the accusations were indeed false, then you may have a very strong defense against your allegations. Our firm is familiar with these tactics and is prepared to do the digging that it takes to find evidence that your allegations are false. Another possible defense against the crime of kidnapping is that there was consent involved. In some cases, we can argue that kidnapping charges are not justified because the victim actually consented to being "moved a reasonable distance." It is also possible that you were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. To learn more about the defense that our firm may be able to use in your case, Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich today!