At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer we understand that kidnapping is not often what people see in the movies. It is not necessarily a strange adult snatching a child off the street. Often it is a parent who simply wishes to pick their child up from school and spend an afternoon with them. Other times it is an adult who wants to be able to take their elderly relatives out of a confining nursing home. These charges can arise from misunderstandings between adults. Whatever the circumstances, kidnapping is taken very seriously in California and it is important to review all your options. Call a Fresno kidnapping defense attorney today at (559) 443-7442 to learn more about these charges and your possible defenses.
California Kidnapping Charges
Under California Penal Code section 207, a person can be charged with kidnapping if there is evidence they:
- Forcibly – or by any other means of instilling fear – stole, took, held, detained, or arrested any other individual within the state, and then took that individual to another location, like another country, state, county—even if just between rooms in the same house
- Hired, persuaded, enticed, or seduced by false promises or misrepresentations any child under the age of 14 to go out of this country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county.
- Forcibly – or by any other means of instilling fear – stole, took, held, detained, or arrested any other individual with the design to take them out of state, or hired, persuaded, enticed, or seduced by false promises or misrepresentations any person to go out of the state, or to be taken from, for the purpose and with the intent to sell that individual into involuntary servitude or slavery.
- In another state, abducted or took by force or fraud any individual in violation of that other state’s laws, and brought that individual into California and then were found in California too.
It is important to note the California statute does not require kidnapping to involve a minor and does not require physical force or violence. You can be accused of kidnapping if you are accused of moving another adult without consent. You can also be charged with this crime if you were able to unlawfully transport another individual through words alone.
Statutory Punishments for Ordinary Kidnapping
Under Penal Code section 208, if you are convicted of kidnapping an adult or an adolescent over the age of 14, you can be sentenced to three, five, or eight years in prison. If the alleged victim is under 14 at the time of the crime, you can be sentenced to prison for five, eight, or 11 years. This heightened punishment does not apply to a parent who took, detained, or concealed a minor biological or adoptive child.
There is also a possibility of serving some of your punishment through probation. If the court determines probation is appropriate under the circumstances, you could be sentenced to up to one year in the county jail prior to being released.
Aggravated Kidnapping in Fresno County
If you are accused of kidnapping another individual for the purpose of committing an additional crime such as extortion or rape, then you can be charged with aggravated kidnapping under Penal Code section 209. If convicted, you face significant prison time. If your purpose was extortion, you can be imprisoned for life. If the victim was not harmed, you may have the option for parole down the road. If anyone suffered substantial harm or was exposed to a substantial risk of death, then you will lose the right to parole.
If a court finds the purpose of the kidnapping was to commit robbery, rape, or another sex crime, then you can be imprisoned for life with the possibility of parole.
If you are convicted of kidnapping, you will have a felony offense on your record. This felony conviction can lead to numerous collateral consequences including:
- The suspension of your voting rights during incarceration
- The revocation or your right to own firearms
- Difficulty gaining admission to college
- Difficulty in finding and maintaining employment
- Loss of child custody or visitation
- Denial of a visa, permanent residency, or citizenship
What Does it Mean to Move an Individual?
Many kidnapping cases turn on whether the alleged victim was actually moved or moved a sufficient distance to constitute the crime. To determine whether you moved another individual a substantial distance, the courts will look at:
- The actual physical distance the alleged victim moved in terms of feet or miles,
- The increase of danger associated with the move,
- Whether the movement aided you in avoiding arrest, and
- Whether the movement helped you commit another crime.
Defending Against Kidnapping Accusations
There are numerous ways we may be able to defend you against accusations of kidnapping, including:
- You had the legal right to take and move the individual, such as if you were granted custody, visitation, or guardianship of a child
- The individual consented to the movement
- You believed in good faith the other individual consented to be moved
- You did not move the individual enough to have committed the crime
- You have been falsely accused and the offense did not take place
- There has been a mistake of identity and you did not commit the offense
Contact a Fresno Kidnapping Defense Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with kidnapping, you need an experienced defense attorney on your side to protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Attorney Michael McKneely of Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer has years of experience as a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer in California. He has the knowledge, skills, and resources you need to face these charges and build a strong defense.
Contact Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer online or call (559) 443-7442 to schedule a free and confidential consultation as soon as possible.