How the Law Defines Kidnapping
Kidnapping is the unlawful removal of another person a substantial distance from his or her original location, or the unlawful confinement of another in isolation. Unlawful in this sense refers to these actions accomplished by use of force, threat or deception, regarding someone who is incapacitated or under the age of 14. It is also illegal if it occurs without the consent of a parent, guardian or other person responsible for the individual. A kidnapping charge can apply even if you remove your own child when you do not have legal authority to do so, as in a case where the other parent has sole custody. It is critical you have a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney fighting on your side if accused of kidnapping. A kidnapping charge can apply if these actions are part of the offense:
- For the purposes of ransom or reward, or to use the person as a shield or hostage
- To assist in the commission of a felony or in fleeing after such an act
- In order to inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another person
- To interfere with the duties of public officials or any political or governmental functions
Kidnapping is a felony of the first degree when it occurs without the consent of a parent, guardian or person responsible for the minor's welfare. A person who retains a ransom is guilty of a felony in the third degree. A parent can be guilty of kidnapping if he/she ignores rights of custody or visitation rights or if he/she "removes, takes, detains, conceals, or entices away" his/her child without a good cause. Parental child abduction occurs more often than stranger child abduction. According to the FBI, approximately 200,000 minors are kidnapped every year in America by a family member.
Child refers to anyone under the age of 18. Common reasons why a stranger kidnaps a child includes: torture, abuse, murder, rape, extortion, ransom or because he/she wants a child of their own. Kidnappers have had a variety of intentions throughout the years. Some have kidnapped so that a child will aid in the commission of a criminal act, while others have tried to inflict harm on another party by kidnapping their child. In some cases kidnapping is meant to disrupt a government function, while other times the kidnapper is simply looking for a ransom or reward. At other times, the defendant wants to use the child as a shield or hostage for a reason of his/her own. In the case of parental kidnappings, besides custody issues, a parent might kidnap his/her children in order to batter them or to protect them from their spouse who has a history of domestic violence against them.
All states recognize kidnapping as a felony offense (18 U.S.C. § 290 1) and as a result there are many severe penalties:
- Prison: Kidnappers can face sentences from 20 years to life for first degree or aggravated kidnapping or 5 years for second degree kidnapping
- Fines: Aggravated kidnapping convictions can result in fines of $50,000 or more and simple kidnapping can result in a fine of $10,000 or more
- Probation: Probation sentences for kidnappers can be up to 10 years
The skilled criminal attorneys at Benari Law Group will approach your case with diligence and analyze it thoroughly to identify any factors useful in your defense. The legal definition of kidnapping is quite precise and an argument in court may be that the circumstances of your case do not satisfy the requirements for a conviction. Our attorneys have experience defending thousands of clients against serious criminal charges and we are confident we can offer effective representation in your kidnapping case. Contact Benari Law Group for legal assistance with fighting your alleged kidnapping charges today!