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What constitutes the federal offense of kidnapping?

Kidnapping is defined as the removal of an individual from one location to another without his or her expressed consent. It can also refer to an individual being held in a confined space for a specific period of time as well. It's a crime that is considered either a violation of state or federal law depending on the unique circumstances of a particular case.

If considered to have violated 18 U.S.C. § 1201 of the federal criminal code, kidnapping can be punished with as much as 20-years or more in jail. The sentence not only is impacted heavily by the defendant's previous convictions, but the potential aggravated nature of the impending charges as well.

In a separate, but related charge, international kidnapping by a parent is prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. § 1204 and carries as much as a three-year prison term if an individual is convicted. Additionally, if a kidnapping involves the taking of an individual across state lines, whether it be a minor or adult, then federal charges may be filed in those cases as well.

As for international parental abductions, the court system of the recipient country generally maintains jurisdiction in these type of cases. Provided that the country with the jurisdiction subscribes to the Hague Convention, a petitioning parent's request that their child be returned to the appropriate jurisdiction where custody will be decided will occur.

When it comes to defending an individual charged with with one of the aforementioned federal kidnapping offenses, there are numerous defenses a defendant and his or her attorney may seek to claim. One includes proving that the alleged victim in a case willingly agreed to accompany the defendant on their journey.

Another defense includes being able to prove that the abduction resulted either from a shortage of knowledge or momentary insanity. Additionally, proving that the two individuals are relatives may result in a dropping or modification of charges. A defendant may also successfully be able to have the aggravated portion of charges dropped if it can be proven that no deadly force was, in fact, used.

If you or someone you know has been charged with kidnapping, an Orange County, California, federal crimes attorney can provide advice and guidance in your legal matter.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Kidnapping," accessed March 29, 2017

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