When does kidnapping become a federal crime?

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2020 | Criminal Defense

In many cases when there is a kidnapping in California, it remains a state case. Local authorities and state officials may handle the case and conduct the investigation. However, federal law does allow the FBI to step into investigation if certain conditions exist. 

The federal kidnapping law allows the FBI to take over jurisdiction of a case in cases where there is a concern that the crime extends beyond the state borders, according to the Legal Information Institute. There are a few different reasons why federal officers may take over a case. 

Special circumstances 

A few of the provisions that allow the federal agents to take over a kidnapping case involve special situations. For example, if the kidnapping occurs with the use of an aircraft under U.S. jurisdiction or within maritime territory, then this makes it a federal crime. Also, any use of the mail in committing the crime, such as mailing ransom notes, makes it fall under federal jurisdiction. 

Certain individuals 

The law also singles out cases that involve the kidnapping of certain people. Employees and officers of the federal government who are performing official duties at the time of the crime and any person who is a foreign official or otherwise has international protection are both covered under federal jurisdiction. 

Across state lines 

Perhaps the most common reason why the federal agents would take over a case is when the kidnapping involves transporting the victim across state lines. 

One last thing that may trigger a case to transfer from state to federal hands is if the kidnapping lasts for more than 24 hours. After 24 hours, the assumption is that there has been interstate travel, which would place it under the jurisdiction of the FBI. 

Determining jurisdiction is important in a kidnapping case. It may also affect how the case is handled if it eventually goes to court. 

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