What is Kidnapping and What Penalties May You Face?

Kidnapping is the act of illegal taking, holding, transporting, or restraining a person, by force, intimidation, or deception, with intent to keep the person for a ransom. Kidnapping may also be committed with the intent that the victim is held as a hostage or shield and confined against their will or to inflict death, sexual offense, or physical injury. Kidnapping charges can come with stiff penalties.

If a person kidnaps another person, is guilty of a first-degree felony, except that they are guilty of a second-degree felony when the kidnapper voluntarily frees the victim in a safe place and doesn’t inflict physical injury or a sexual offense upon the victim.

If you have commited such a crime in New Mexico, be sure to hire a criminal defense attorney.

Types of Kidnapping

Taking, confinement, or restraint – In some states, a kidnapper must confine the victim with the intention to cause bodily harm, use the person as a shield, use the person as a means of escape, hold the person for ransom, hold the person as an involuntary servant, or hold the person to disturb government or political activities. In other states, control is a crucial element of kidnapping.

Movement of the victim – Some states require that the kidnapping victim must be moved for a substantial distance (the actual distance required can be minimal). Moving a victim from one house to another one across the street or from one vehicle into a nearby house is enough. However, movement from one room of a house to another may not be. Some states don’t require the movement of the victim to charge the offender with kidnapping.

  • Kidnapping degrees – Some state laws classify kidnapping into offenses of various severity. Aggravated kidnapping is also known as a charge of first-degree kidnapping, requires that the accused kidnapper either physically harm, sexually assault, or put the victim at serious risk of harm during the kidnapping. A second-degree kidnapping doesn’t involve sexual or violent assault or exposing the victim to harm.
  • Force and threatening – In some states, the kidnapper doesn’t have to use force to commit a kidnapping, while other states require that there has to be some force used before confinement can be considered a kidnapping. Threatening the victim with violence or other threats that might instill fear is also considered a use of force.
  • Consent – If the victim consented to the confinement, then the act isn’t kidnapping. A child or a person with cognitive disabilities can’t give legal consent. Kidnapping can happen if the person is taken without the consent of the parent or legal guardian.
  • Federal kidnapping – Most of the kidnapping crimes are prosecuted as state offenses, the federal government can also prosecute a person for kidnapping if the kidnapping crosses state lines. Federal prosecutors can file kidnapping charges besides the state charges. This means you can be charged with both federal and state crimes.

Laws & Penalties

Kidnapping is a serious charge that leads to inevitable penalties. Every state categorizes kidnapping as a felony offense. Different states have different degrees of felonies and different sentences. Harsh penalties are given in cases where the kidnapped person is a child, or if the victim was injured, sexually violated, or exposed to danger.

Here are the potential penalties for kidnapping:

  • Prison time Kidnapping can result in long jail sentences, including life sentences in some states and specific situations. It’s very common for kidnappers to get 20 years or more; this usually happens for first degree or aggravated kidnapping. Second-degree kidnapping often leads to shorter sentences of five years.
  • Fines – Aggravated kidnapping convictions are charged with high fines of $50,000 or more. Simple kidnapping can lead to a fine of $10,000 or more.
  • Probation A court may also sentence the kidnapper to a probation term. Probation sentences for such cases usually last several years, but there are cases where the probation can last for as much as 10 years. If you’re on probation you will have to comply with the court’s conditions or serve the original jail sentence, pay extra fines, or deal with other criminal penalties. Meeting regularly with a probation officer, asking the court or probation officer for moving or traveling out of the state, not doing any more crimes, or associating with known criminals are just a few of the most common probation conditions.

Federal kidnapping may be charged when a parent takes a child out of the country without the permission of the other parent, with the intent to obstruct the other parent’s custodial rights. This is called International Parental Kidnapping. Conviction may result in a sentence of three years in a federal prison.

If you have kidnapped a person (no matter for what reason) FBD Law is at your service.

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