Kidnapping is something most of you have only seen in movies. Nevertheless, kidnapping is a very serious crime that can land you in prison for quite some time. Obviously, being accused of kidnapping charges is no joke often requires legal help from a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney in order to handle your case professionally and aggressively to secure the most preferable outcome in your case.
Kidnapping is a very serious offense and can lead to felony charges punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Under Pennsylvania law, kidnapping is defined as knowingly taking and moving another person from one place to another against their will and without their consent.
As you may have guessed, this kind of wording leaves plenty of room for interpretation, which is why many people are falsely accused of this offense and can be wrongfully convicted of kidnapping.
“Interestingly,” says our experienced kidnapping attorney in Pittsburgh, “the amount of distance that another individual must be moved for it to lead to kidnapping charges is extremely small, as little as moving a person from the outside of a car to the inside.”
Types of Kidnapping Charges
There are several types of kidnapping charges, all of which carry their own penalties and punishment.
- Simple kidnapping: If the defendant used force or fear to move the victim from one place to another without their consent, the defendant will most likely be charged with a felony, punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of up to 20 years.
- Aggravated kidnapping: If the defendant kidnapped the victim and made a ransom demand or inflicted serious bodily injury or death, he or she will most likely be charged with a felony offense of aggravated kidnapping. You may also be charged with aggravated kidnapping if your case involved extortion, robbery, carjacking, and certain sex crimes. In many cases, defendants charged with aggravated kidnapping are facing a life sentence.
- False imprisonment: If you restrained, detained, or confined another person against their will, you may be charged with false imprisonment, which carries less severe penalties. Those who are being accused of simple or aggravated kidnapping are often able to plead down to false imprisonment to avoid facing serious penalties.
- Child abduction: You do not necessarily have to move the victim a substantial distance to be charged with this type of kidnapping. In fact, you can be charged with child abduction for deliberately keeping the child from someone who has custody rights.
Defenses to Kidnapping Charges
Defending yourself in a kidnapping case can feel like walking through a minefield because there are only a few legal defenses that may be able to help you fight back. More often than not, seeking legal help from a Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer is the only viable option to effectively fight back against the following charges:
- The victim gave consent: If you moved another person not against their will and the alleged victim actually gave their consent, you cannot be charged with kidnapping. As you may have guessed, proving that this was done not against the alleged victim’s will can be tricky.
- The kidnapping was an honest mistake: This one is usually applicable in child abduction cases, where one of the parents does not fully understand how the custody arrangement works. You can avoid being charged with the kidnapping crime if you can prove that you did not willfully withhold or kidnap your child.
- You were coerced or under threat of violence or blackmail: Oftentimes, defendants can effectively defend themselves in kidnapping cases when they can prove that they were under duress or coercion to engage in this type of criminal activity.
If you are facing kidnapping charges, contact our Pittsburgh criminal defense attorneys to find out how we can help with your case.