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What constitutes kidnapping and how it's punished in California

In general, the crime of kidnapping is defined as someone moving another against his or her will. To prove that a kidnapping occurred in California, it's necessary for the prosecutor to be able to either show that some type of physical force was used to actually move a victim or that a defendant instilled some type of fear in the victim in order to persuade him or her to move.

To justify a kidnapping charge in California, it's also necessary that the prosecutor be able to show that the victim of the alleged kidnapping was moved a significant distance. Alternatively, a defendant who moves a victim a short distance from a more overt to a less public space or moves the individual in an effort to avoid discovery may be enough to justify a kidnapping charge as well.

California Penal Code Section 207-210 defines both simple and aggravated kidnapping. The main difference between the two crimes is that an aggravated charge requires the prosecutor to be able to prove that the kidnapping occurred in order to set the groundwork for the defendant to carry out another criminal act such as a rape, act of extortion or robbery.

A mere conviction for kidnapping in California carries at least a three-year sentence in state prison. If the victim is younger than 14 and kidnapped by someone other than his or her custodial parent, then the accused risks being sentenced to five years at the very least. Aggravating factors as those listed above can lead to sentences as long as 11 years.

If the crime of kidnapping is accompanied by a murder, then the individual's charge will most likely be upgraded to a first-degree, felony murder charge. A homicide that takes place during the commission of a kidnapping can carry a sentence as long as life in prison without the chance of parole or even the death penalty.

The state of California punishes suspected cases of kidnapping very harshly. Therefore, if you've been charged with such an offense, an Orange County, California, criminal defense attorney can discuss what types of defenses are available to you to pursue.

Source: FindLaw, "California kidnapping laws," accessed July 19, 2017

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