Kidnapping is a felony offense under California law, and a conviction for kidnapping in Los Angeles can have a significant impact on every aspect of your life, possibly affecting your ability to find a job or place to live. Most employers and landlords run background checks on potential employees or tenants, and if they see a felony kidnapping conviction on your criminal record, they may be hesitant to approve your application. And if the kidnapping charges against you involve allegations of sexual misconduct with a child, you could also be required to register with the state of California as a sex offender. If you have been charged with kidnapping in Los Angeles, you could be facing a felony conviction, which carries significant criminal penalties, the most serious of which may include life in prison without the possibility of parole. The best way to minimize the adverse consequences of a kidnapping conviction is to hire an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to defend you. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today at (213) 205-3100.
Affordable Kidnapping Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
If you have been arrested for kidnapping in Los Angeles, contact Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles for a free kidnapping defense consultation. Our criminal defense attorneys are intimately familiar with the California criminal justice system and have an excellent understanding of the defense strategies that work best in kidnapping cases, which can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your criminal case. If, for instance, you want to avoid going to court, we can negotiate with the prosecution to seek a favorable plea deal possibly involving a reduction in charges or an agreement on sentencing. If your case does go to trial, we will use every resource at our disposal to fight your kidnapping charges, so you can finally move on with your life.
Most of us are familiar with the general components that constitute a crime of kidnapping, but the exact wording of California kidnapping laws is complex and the criminal implications of this offense can be confusing. In the simplest of terms, it is a violation of California kidnapping laws, found under Penal Code § 207, 208, 209 and 209.5, to take another person by force or fear a substantial distance to another location without that person’s consent. “Simple” kidnapping in Los Angeles is covered under California Penal Code § 207 PC, which defines “force or fear” as actually inflicting physical force upon the alleged kidnapping victim, or threatening to inflict imminent physical harm. There are certain circumstances that can elevate a simple kidnapping offense to aggravated kidnapping (Penal Code § 207(c) PC), a more serious offense that carries enhanced criminal penalties. Some elements of aggravated kidnapping crimes in Los Angeles include the following:
- Using force, fear or fraud upon a victim who is a child under the age of 14
- Causing the victim to suffer serious bodily harm or death
- Kidnapping for the purpose of committing robbery, rape or another criminal offense
- Kidnapping involving a ransom request
- Kidnapping a victim during a carjacking
It is important to note that aggravated kidnapping does not necessarily require that the person be moved or relocated, only that the person was held or detained against his or her will. Some examples of aggravated kidnapping include: tying someone up, moving him to a secluded location, and then calling his family to demand a ransom; tricking your girlfriend’s 10-year-old son into getting in the car with you by offering to take him to the movies, when you actually intend to hide him from his mother because you found out she is cheating on you; or holding a gun to a woman’s head and demanding that she drives you away from the store you just robbed. Some other charges related to Penal Code § 207 PC kidnapping include Penal Code § 209 PC kidnapping for ransom, reward, or extortion, or to commit robbery or rape; Penal Code § 209.5 PC kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking, Penal Code § 210 PC extortion by posing as a kidnapper, Penal Code § 278 PC child abduction, and Penal Code § 278.5 PC deprivation of a child custody order.
Conviction for Kidnapping Penal Code § 207
When it comes to getting a conviction in a criminal case in California, the prosecution bears the burden of proving the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. That means providing irrefutable evidence in support of each “element” of the crime. In order to be convicted of kidnapping in California, for instance, the prosecutor must prove that you are guilty of the following elements of the criminal offense:
- You took, detained or held another person using force or fear;
- You used that force or fear to move the person a substantial distance; and
- The person did not (or could not) consent to the move.
How is Kidnapping Different from False Imprisonment?
Similar to the crime of Penal Code § 207 PC kidnapping is Penal Code § 236 false imprisonment. Under California Penal Code § 236 PC, it is illegal to restrain, confine or detain a person without his or her consent. Although these criminal offenses are similar in nature, there are important differences between the two crimes. Unlike Penal Code §207 PC kidnapping, which requires the movement of the victim to constitute a kidnapping charge, false imprisonment can involve any situation where a person is confined against his or her will or believes he or she is confined to any location, regardless of the size of the location and whether or not it is locked. Furthermore, the restraint or confinement doesn’t have to last for any specific length of time for it to be considered a crime under Penal Code § 236 PC; holding a door closed or telling someone that he or she cannot leave may be enough to for a false imprisonment charge to result. Los Angeles false imprisonment is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense, but the crime can be upgraded to a felony offense if the imprisonment is carried out using overt physical force or threats of force, or by deception or fraud.
Penalties for a Kidnapping Conviction
The consequences associated with a Los Angeles kidnapping conviction depend on a number of factors, including the age of the alleged victim, the distance he or she was moved, your criminal record, and whether any other crimes were committed during the kidnapping. Any “simple” kidnapping offense under California Penal Code § 207 PC is a felony crime carrying a maximum prison sentence of three to eight years and/or up to $10,000 in fines. If you are convicted of kidnapping a child under the age of 14, the maximum prison sentence could be increased to 11 years, and if you are convicted of aggravated kidnapping, you could face a sentence of five years to life in California state prison, depending on the circumstances of the alleged crime. Kidnapping involving a ransom request, for example, may result in a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if the alleged victim suffers serious bodily harm or death, under Penal Code § 209 PC. Kidnapping may also count as a “strike” offense under California’s “Three Strikes” law, which is designed to punish certain repeat offenders convicted of serious or violent felonies, and this law requires that you serve at least 85% of your prison sentence before being eligible for release.
Defenses to Kidnapping Charges
It is easy to imagine that the deck is stacked against you when facing kidnapping charges in Los Angeles, especially if the circumstances of the offense elevate the crime to aggravated kidnapping. Fortunately, there are a variety of legal defenses that can apply to California kidnapping charges to explain or justify your alleged actions. If you have been arrested for kidnapping in Los Angeles, a skilled criminal defense attorney familiar with California law and the intricacies of the criminal justice system can raise a number of defenses on your behalf, including the following:
- Lack of intent – You did not have the requisite intent necessary to sustain a kidnapping conviction
- Mistaken identity – You were falsely accused of kidnapping based on mistaken identity
- Consent – The alleged victim consented to being moved
- Lack of sufficient movement – The movement wasn’t substantial enough to qualify the alleged crime as kidnapping
- Actual innocence – You were merely present and not the individual who carried out the kidnapping
- Lawful custody – As the parent of the alleged victim, you have a right to travel with your child
- Lack of proof – The prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence to prove the case
Hiring a Knowledgeable Kidnapping Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Kidnapping is prosecuted as a serious felony offense under California law, and you could face significant criminal penalties if you are convicted of kidnapping or aggravated kidnapping in Los Angeles. You could even be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, depending on the severity of the crime you are accused of committing. If you or a loved one is facing kidnapping charges in Southern California, don’t hesitate to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to represent your case. Our lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles are committed to protecting the rights of clients wrongfully accused of California kidnapping offenses and will work tirelessly to help you reach a favorable conclusion to your case.