Criminal Defense Attorney in Miami Helping People Accused of Kidnapping
Kidnapping is a widely misunderstood crime. Thanks to popular crime dramas, many people believe that kidnapping must involve blindfolds, car trunks, and crossing state lines. The fact is that there are many ways to commit the crime of kidnapping. Any of these methods can sustain serious felony charges, and it is essential to protect your legal rights. If you or a loved one is facing kidnapping charges, contact the experienced Miami criminal defense attorney of Stroleny Law, P.A. Our lawyer is highly skilled in defending serious felonies, and can help protect defendants’ legal rights throughout the criminal case process. Call (305) 615-1285 today to schedule a free phone consultation.
What is Kidnapping?
Florida law defines kidnapping as:
- forcibly, secretly, or by threat
- confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person
- against her or his will and without lawful authority
- with intent to hold for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage; commit or facilitate the commission of any felony; inflict bodily harm upon or to terrorize the victim or another person; or interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.
Section 787.01 of the Florida Statutes makes this offense a first-degree felony that is punishable by a prison term of ten years to life. If the victim is a child under thirteen years of age and the defendant commits one of several specified additional offenses, the crime is punished by a life term in prison. These additional offenses include aggravated child abuse, sexual battery, lewd or lascivious battery, lewd or lascivious molestation, lewd or lascivious conduct, lewd or lascivious exhibition, child prostitution, exploitation of the child or allowing the child to be exploited, or human trafficking.
Misunderstandings About Kidnapping
As you might have noticed, there are many behaviors that are encompassed by Florida’s legal definition of kidnapping. For example, a bank robber who uses patrons as hostages or human shields has, by definition, kidnapped them. Kidnapping could also apply when a person is forced to commit a crime, as by entering a bank at gunpoint or being forced to hack or commit other computer crimes. If the victim is confined against his or her will by threat for the purpose of committing a felony, this, too, is kidnapping.
Nor does kidnapping have to involve a victim who is a minor. There are more serious penalties for the kidnapping of a child under thirteen years old, but older children and adults can also be the subject of kidnapping. Similarly, kidnapping does not only have to be committed for the purpose of extorting ransom money. Notice that the legal definition of kidnapping also encompasses situations in which the victim is a human shield, the victim of terrorism or bodily harm, or even a political or government employee whose work the defendant wants to stop.
Finally, it is important to understand that not all instances of confinement constitute kidnapping. Shopkeepers, for example, have a well-defined legal privilege to detain persons who steal from their stores. This confers the “legal authority” to confine someone as expressed in Section 787.01. Furthermore, the shopkeeper does not have the intent to use the detainee for ransom, as a hostage, to commit terrorism or any other felony, or any of the other prohibit intents listed in the statute. For this reason, too, a shopkeeper cannot be guilty of kidnapping when he or she detains a shoplifter.
The Shopkeeper’s Privilege is not the only exception to kidnapping. The statute also, for example, mentions detaining a child without the permission of his or her guardians. This exception allows parents and other caregivers to ground a child (or otherwise restrict his or her movements) without running afoul of the law. There are many other circumstances in which kidnapping may not have actually occurred, even though the “victim” was, in fact, confined. This is why it is so important to consult with an experienced Miami kidnapping attorney about any investigations or charges. In some circumstances, it may be possible to have a kidnapping charge dismissed altogether.
Federal Kidnapping Charges
Federal law also prohibits kidnapping. Because Congress can only pass laws when there is federal jurisdiction over a crime, federal kidnapping charges are limited to certain circumstances. According to the Department of Justice, these are: (1) kidnapping in which the victim is willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce; (2) kidnapping within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States; (3) kidnapping within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States; (4) kidnapping in which the victim is a foreign official, an internationally protected person, or an official guest as those terms are defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1116(b); (5) kidnapping in which the victim is a Federal officer or employee designated in 18 U.S.C. § 1114; and (6) international parental kidnapping in which the victim is a child under the age of 16 years.
Federal kidnapping charges are subject to different investigations, different sentencing structures, different mitigating factors, and different grounds for appeal. Any time you face federal charges, it is important to consult with a criminal attorney in Miami who understands federal law. An experienced criminal defense attorney who practices in the federal courts will be in the best possible position to defend federal criminal charges.
Experienced Miami Criminal Defense Attorney for Kidnapping Charges
Serious felonies can result in lengthy prison terms. Don’t try to handle serious charges on your own – the experienced criminal defense attorney at Stroleny Law, P.A. can help protect your constitutional rights at all stages of criminal proceedings. He can help determine whether there is enough evidence to sustain charges against you. He can determine if your case has been improperly charged too severely, or with duplicative charges that should be dropped. Our attorney can help you determine whether to accept a plea offer or fight the charges at trial.
Call (305) 615-1285 for a free phone consultation as soon as possible. We fight hard to protect our clients’ legal rights.
Stroleny Law, P.A. handles a variety of criminal law cases, so call now if you have any questions.