Most people understand that forcing someone to another location against his or her will is kidnapping. Under California law, kidnapping requires that the kidnapped person is moved a "substantial" distance but depending upon the circumstances, this distance can be only a few feet. An example might be when a person is forced at gunpoint to enter a structure that is only a few feet away. The force required under the kidnapping statute can be physical, for example physically carrying a person, or it can be induced by fear, for example at gunpoint or by threats of harm. Kidnapping can also be charged against a person who directs someone else to carry out the actual kidnapping or who aids and abets a kidnapping. An Orange County kidnapping defense lawyer can help you fight these charges.
Many people are surprised to find themselves charged with kidnapping when they take their own child or grandchild without the authority to do so (i.e., without lawful custody of the child). This often occurs during contentious child custody battles. Unlike other kidnappings, there is no requirement that the child is taken without his or her consent; all that is required is enough "force" to take and carry the child a substantial distance. Whether the distance is "substantial" will depend on the circumstances. Although a person believes that he or she has a right to take the child, it can still be kidnapping under the law with a potential prison sentence.
Kidnapping is considered "aggravated" under a number of circumstances including when there is a demand for ransom, when the victim suffers a substantial physical injury or death or when the kidnapping occurs in conjunction with a carjacking. Aggravated kidnapping carries significantly greater punishment than simple kidnapping.
Kidnapping is always a felony, and can result in a life sentence in some situations. Kidnapping is considered a "violent felony" under Penal Code Section 667.5(c). That means the crime is considered a "strike" under California's "Three Strikes Law" and a conviction of kidnapping will result in a strike with the potential for greater punishment.
Anyone who is charged under this statute should contact an experienced kidnapping defense attorney in Orange County immediately. Kidnapping is often related to, or charged in conjunction with, false imprisonment or child abduction. Both of these crimes are significantly less serious than kidnapping and an experienced criminal defense attorney is often able to get the kidnapping charges dismissed and a conviction on a lesser crime. Depending on the circumstances, an experienced criminal defense attorney may even be able to get the charges dismissed when the evidence is insufficient or the prosecution fails to establish the elements of the crime.
As an experienced Orange County kidnapping defense attorney with proven results, I will work diligently to obtain a dismissal or reduction of the charges or if convicted, the lowest sentence possible. I have successfully defended hundreds of clients, including those charged with kidnapping and related crimes (for example, child abduction and false imprisonment). Contact me at any time to set up a confidential consultation without charge. I will work with you and your family to provide a fee structure that best suits your circumstances.Sentencing
The crime of kidnapping carries a term of imprisonment in state prison for three, five, or eight years. Under certain conditions, someone convicted of kidnapping may receive a grant of probation but even then, the statute calls for a minimum term of imprisonment of one year in addition to the grant of probation.
If the kidnap victim is under 14 years of age the crime is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 5, 8, or 11 years. However, this aggravated sentence does not apply to the kidnapping of one's biological or adopted child.
When someone is convicted of kidnapping for ransom the sentence is imprisonment for two, three or four years in state prison. However, if the kidnapped victim is physically harmed or dies, the sentence is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. If the kidnapped victim was confined in a manner that could have, but did not, result in physical harm or death to the victim, the sentence is life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.
A charge of kidnapping for the purposes of committing robbery, rape, or other sex crimes or in the commission of a carjacking is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole. When charged with these types of aggravated kidnapping the movement of the victim must be over and above any movement necessary to commit the underlying offense. A kidnapping defense lawyer in Orange County can help you try to avoid or minimize the consequences of these charges.