Everyone has a basic idea of what defines kidnapping thanks to so many movies and TV shows that depict abductions, but in real life, kidnapping is quite different from what you see on screen. It is also a serious crime in California that can leave you in prison for years, which is why anyone accused of this crime should call a San Diego kidnapping attorney as soon as possible.
Kidnapping Laws in California
State law defines kidnapping as the transportation of a person without their consent through the use of force or fear, or the use of fraud in cases where the victim is under 14. In order to convict someone of kidnapping, this means the prosecution must show the victim was:
- moved a substantial distance
- that they didn’t consent to the movement
- they were made to move through the use of fear, force or, if the victim was under 14, fraud.
These distinctions are critical. If you took someone and locked them in their own closet, for example, kidnapping charges will not apply to your case. Alternatively, if you abducted an adult by promising to give them money, you did not kidnap them. In fact, if you abducted a person from the street and officers found them in your house nearby, you might not meet the “substantial distance” requirement for a kidnapping charge. But if you tell police that you drove somewhere else with the alleged victim in the car before taking them to your home, you may end up providing them with evidence that you did transport them far enough away. This is why it is so important you refuse to speak to anyone but your attorney if you have been accused of this crime.
Enhancements to the Charges
It is surprisingly easy for kidnapping charges to turn into aggravated kidnapping charges, which are much more serious. This can occur when any of the following conditions are met:
- the victim was under 14
- the victim was seriously injured
- the abduction took place during a carjacking
- a ransom was made
- other laws were broken during a the commission of the crime
Additionally, if you give police or prosecutors reason to believe you crossed state lines with the victim, the charge may become a federal crime, which means you will need to fight the charges in a federal court with a federal crimes lawyer.
Penalties for Kidnapping in California
Kidnapping charges are always felony and they can result in up to eight years in a state penitentiary. Aggravated kidnapping charges can result in life in prison without parole. Kidnapping also qualifies as a strike under the state’s three strike law, which means you will need to serve out 85% of your sentence before becoming eligible for parole and that if you get two more strikes on your record, you will be subject to life imprisonment. On the other hand, if your attorney can get the charges knocked down to false imprisonment, you will face a maximum of three years and could even be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by no more than one year in jail.
As you can tell, the right San Diego kidnapping lawyer can play a critical role in fighting kidnapping accusations against you. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.