Anyone can be charged for kidnapping in California even without conscious criminal intent. This offense has been addressed by several federal and state statutes. In Orange County, kidnapping is a felony and a violent crime punishable by hefty fines and prolonged prison times.
Your best bet is a strategic defense from an Orange County criminal defense attorney. Like all other criminal cases, the accuser must prove that you are indeed guilty of kidnapping beyond reasonable doubt. The definition of the crime is clearly written in the law, but the interpretation might be complex.
How Can I Defend Myself Against Parental Kidnapping in California?
Parental kidnapping laws are complex and are often misunderstood. A parent might have a strong defense if they took their child in the following circumstances:
- If the other parent was exhibiting dangerous or neglectful behavior towards the child
- If there are no custody orders
- If you had the court’s permission to travel abroad with the child
- If the child is above 18 and they agreed to come with you
You might have to be more strategic in your defense if you took your child in these circumstances:
- Leaving the country or state without notifying the other parent if there is a court order
- Taking the child after your ex denies you rightful visitation
- Taking a child above 18 with special needs that make them incapable of consenting
You can argue that there was a misunderstanding in the above circumstances, and you thought you had your ex’s permission.
What Punishment Can I Avoid With a Good Defense?
Failure to invest in a good defense professional exposes you to the risk of life-changing possibilities. You might be penalized more harshly if aggravating factors were at play.
Things that worsen a penalty include:
- Kidnapping during a carjacking incident
- Infliction of severe bodily harm during the kidnapping
- Ransom demand from the kidnapping
- A victim 14 years or younger
- If it involved a sex crime
- If the victim dies
- If the victim was put in a situation, they could have sustained severe injuries or death
Punishment for perpetrating “simple” kidnapping include:
- Fines as high as $10,000
- 3-8 years in a state prison
Aggravating factors can elevate the penalties to:
- 5 to 11 years in prison
- Life imprisonment
- A strike on your record
All these eventualities are avoidable if you invest in a strategic defense team. An Orange County kidnapping defense attorney can evaluate your case and help you strategize effectively.
What are the Elements of A Kidnapping Crime?
Understanding the elements of the crime of kidnapping is critical in formulating your defense. Kidnapping is defined and criminalized under Penal Code Sections 209.5, 209, 208, and 207.
Use of Fear/Force
The perpetrator ought to have inflicted actual physical harm or used force. Furthermore, threatening to use force or inflict injury on the victim is an element of kidnapping.
Movement for Substantial Distances
The victim’s movement should be substantial enough to lessen the chances of the perpetrator being detected while increasing the risks for the victim.
The victim needs not have willingly agreed to go with the defendant. They either silently complied due to fear of harm, resisted, or protested going with the perpetrator. Consent cannot be granted by a mentally disabled individual, a child, or anyone incapable of giving legal consent.
Use of Fraud
If fear, force, or threats weren’t used in the kidnapping, the perpetrator ought to have used fraud to move the victim. Deceiving the victim into compliance is sufficient to charge the perpetrator.
What Defenses Can I Use for Kidnapping?
Kidnapping charges are not easy to defend. It requires in-depth knowledge of the California laws and a proper understanding of the case filed. The defense approaches are many, and a kidnapping defense lawyer in Orange County can advise on the one most likely to favor its client.
Consent to Being Moved
If the alleged victim either consented or gave the accused reasons to believe that they agreed to go with them, it might not amount to kidnapping.
A slight movement that wasn’t likely to put the victim in much danger could be used as a defense.
The victim might have mistaken you for the kidnapper. It happens when you resemble the alleged perpetrator or when their memory was impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Alibi as Defense
You can use a time reference to show that you were somewhere else when the kidnapping incident happened.
Evidence that raises doubts, such as conflicting testimonies with little or nothing else to support, can easily be thrown out of court.
Someone can invent kidnapping accusations out of jealousy, anger, or for purposes of winning a custody battle.
This happens when you hide a child because of imminent danger such as physical harm.
What Defense Strategy Will Be The Most Ideal For Me?
A violation of California Penal Code 207 is a grave offense and can stress you and your family. But a kidnapping defense attorney in Laguna Hills can take the burden off your shoulder. Their expertise and knowledge allow them to handle such cases with ease.
Usually, the most appropriate approach to defense depends on the incident. Until you have an attorney evaluating your case, it might be impossible to tell the best approach to use. And a good defense can guarantee a great outcome – a dismissal, acquittal, or reduced charges.
An Attorney Skillfully Defending Accused Persons in Southern California
Accused persons often feel alone in court battles. Apart from the whirlwind of emotions, a kidnapping conviction and criminal record can affect the quality of your life. Your social and professional life can take a nose-dive after that because it might be difficult for employers, family, and friends to trust you.
The criminal defense lawyers from The SoCal Law Network can walk the journey with you and guide you through the complicated court process. Talk to us if you are in Laguna Hills and have been accused of kidnapping.