What Constitutes Kidnapping
In California, you would violate kidnapping laws found in Penal Codes 207, 208, 209 and 209.5 if you move another person a substantial distance without their consent by using force or fear. Using force or fear means that you actually use physical force on the person or that you threaten to harm them. Additionally, in California, there is a charge known as aggravated kidnapping. You can be charged with this if you move another person and you use force, fear or fraud on a victim that is under 14 years of age, you demand a ransom, cause the victim to suffer serious bodily harm or death, kidnap another person while carjacking, and/or violate any other laws relating to kidnapping. You need to call an experienced criminal lawyer if you have been charged with kidnapping.
Kidnapping Requirements… explained
In order to be charged with kidnapping someone, you must have moved them a significant or substantial distance. The definition of what a significant or substantial movement is depends on a few things; the actual distance moved, whether that movement increased the victims risk of being harmed and whether the movement decreased the chances of being caught. In the end, there is no set distance that would automatically qualify as moving someone significantly in a kidnapping charge. The movement must also occur without the alleged victims consent meaning that the victim in the case must have voiced that they did not want to be moved or put up a fight in the process of being moved. Children, those who have a mental illness, and people who are extremely intoxicated are not able to give consent legally– therefore, they cannot consent to being moved. Using fear, force or fraud means that the defendant must have actually used physical force or threatened to harm the victim in the process of the kidnapping. This could mean that they restrained the victim, that they dragged them, or even that they assaulted them until they could not resist being moved. Fear, in this situation, would mean that they could have demanded that the victim come with them at gunpoint or that they threatened to abuse the victim of their immediate family either physically or sexually. The definition of fraud is any deliberate deception used to get some sort of personal gain.
Kidnapping is considered a felony and upon conviction, you could receive up to eight years in California state prison. If you are convicted of aggravated kidnapping, your sentence could be anywhere from five years to life. The sentence will depend on the facts of the case. This is considered a strike under California’s three strikes law, therefore, you will have to serve at least 85% of your sentence before you can become eligible for release.
There are a few legal defenses that can be used in order to evade a conviction. One potential defense could be that the alleged victim consented to being moved, meaning that they either gave their explicit permission or that their behavior indicated that they were not opposed to being moved. It could also be the case that the alleged victim was not moved a substantial distance and therefore one of the elements of the kidnapping charge was not met. Yet another defense could be that you were just present at the scene and were not the actual kidnapper.