Kidnapping is a delicate issue with a stigma of negativity often exacerbated by the media and popular detective TV shows. However, sadly the people involved are often parents, relatives, or guardians of the victim and the circumstances are both emotionally and legally complicated – such as in a divorce.
If you have been charged with kidnapping or a related offense and believe you were operating fully within your rights you could be eligible under the Texas Penal Code for a reduction or dismissal of your charges. An experienced Dallas violent crimes attorney will be able to examine your case and fight for a more favorable outcome.
Kidnapping Defense Lawyer in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, TX
Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas. Our firm will work to potentially get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Restraint vs. Abduct in Texas Law
In the Texas code, there are two very important terms to keep in mind when considering the magnitude of your case. The difference between the terms could mean the difference in what you are charged with and how your case is handled.
Restraint – Texas Penal Code defines restraint as restricting a person’s movement by confining him or her in a certain space and/or moving them from one place to another – both without the individual’s consent. A lack of consent is present if given directly by the victim; the victim is under 14 and his or her parents or guardians have not consented; or if the victim is between 14-17 and is taken either out of state or beyond a 120-mile radius from his or residence
Abduction – Texas Penal Code defines abduction as taking someone with or without his or her consent and preventing rescue by threatening violence and/or hiding the individual.
These terms have a big impact on whether you are charged with a serious felony or a lesser offense, as well as whether or not your case has the potential to be dismissed. It is recommended that you contact an experienced Dallas kidnapping attorney very soon to evaluate your case in relation to these terms.
Types of Kidnapping in Dallas
The purpose of defining restraint and abduction in the Texas Penal Code is to provide better clarity for the four different categories of kidnapping and how they should be charged. These four categories of kidnapping-related offenses are:
- Class A Misdemeanor – Restraint without consent as defined in §20.02 of the Texas Penal Code
- State Jail Felony – Victim of unlawful restraint is under 17
- Third-Degree Felony – Defendant allegedly recklessly endangered the restrained person, or the restrained person was a public servant
- State Jail Felony – Defendant allegedly abducted individuals (as defined in §20.01) so they are hidden from law enforcement and there is a significant risk of individual suffering serious bodily injury or death
- Third-Degree Felony – Kidnapping alone has the simple definition of the alleged defendant abducting the victim as defined in Texas State Penal Code §20.01.
- First-Degree Felony – In addition to abduction, the defendant must have also allegedly held the victim for ransom, hostage, leveraging, or human shield; terrorized, inflicted bodily harm or sexual abuse, or used a deadly weapon on the victim; and/or interfered with government or political function
- Second-Degree Felony – Possible when the defendant allegedly released the victim voluntarily to a safe place
All of these offenses have a large impact on your future livelihood and freedom and should be taken extremely seriously. Depending on different factors in the case, such as your relationship to the alleged victim, there may be mitigating circumstances that change the severity of the charges. An experienced Metroplex kidnapping defense lawyer will be able to meticulously review your case and fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Potential Penalties for Kidnapping Offenses in Texas
The following are the maximum consequences for a conviction of a kidnapping or related offense in the state of Texas:
Class A Misdemeanor
- Simple unlawful restraint
- $4,000 fine
- 1 year of jail and/or probation
State Jail Felony
- Unlawful restraint of a minor
- Simple unlawful transport
- $10,000 fine
- 2 years of jail and/or probation
- Unlawful restraint with reckless endangerment of victim
- Unlawful restraint of public servant
- $10,000 fine
- 10 years of jail and/or probation
- Aggravated kidnapping with the voluntary release of the victim
- $10,000 fine
- 20 years of jail and/or probation
- Aggravated kidnapping
- $10,000 fine
- 99 years of jail and/or probation
There are several mitigating circumstances allowed for in the Texas code, including the ages of the defendant and the victim, their relationship, and whether any violence or ulterior motives were present. It is important to contact an experienced Fort Worth kidnapping lawyer to determine if any of these circumstances apply in order for a case reduction or dismissal.
Federal Kidnapping Charges
Kidnapping offenses can become federal offenses under certain circumstances, such as when the victims are transported across state lines. When that happens, federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), may become involved in the investigation and prosecution of the case.
In the context of the United States and its border with Mexico, federal agencies may indeed pay close attention to kidnapping cases occurring in border regions. This is due to the potential for international aspects, human trafficking concerns, or other factors that may warrant federal involvement.
Federal kidnapping laws are outlined in 18 U.S. Code § 1201, and they provide for severe penalties upon conviction. The specific penalties can vary depending on the circumstances and severity of the offense, but they generally include significant terms of imprisonment ranging from 20 years to life.
It’s important to note that misunderstandings or disputes between parents regarding child custody, especially when one parent resides in another state, can sometimes be misconstrued as kidnapping. In such cases, it’s crucial to consult with legal professionals experienced in family law to ensure that your rights are protected and that the situation is resolved in a lawful and appropriate manner.
If you or someone you know is facing kidnapping charges, particularly in a federal context, it’s essential to seek the assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney. They can provide guidance, build a strong defense, and navigate the complexities of federal law to protect your rights and help achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
The Lindbergh Law, also known as the Federal Kidnapping Act, is found in Title 18 U.S.C. § 1201. The law was enacted by Congress in response to the tragic abduction and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s toddler son.
The law outlines various scenarios in which kidnapping offenses can become federal crimes and establishes the penalties for those convicted. Key provisions include:
- Unlawful Seizure and Transportation: The law applies to anyone who unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, carries away, and holds for ransom or reward any person, except in the case of a minor by their parent. The offense becomes a federal crime if the person is willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce or if the alleged offender travels in interstate or foreign commerce, uses the mail, or any means of interstate or foreign commerce in committing the offense.
- Jurisdiction: The law applies to acts committed within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States. It also extends to cases involving foreign officials, internationally protected persons, official guests, or certain officers and employees described in section 1114 of Title 18 (related to assaults on federal officers).
- Penalties: Conviction under this law can result in imprisonment for any term of years or life. In cases where the offense leads to the death of the victim, the punishment can be death or life imprisonment.
- Presumption of Interstate or Foreign Transportation: If the victim is not released within 24 hours after being unlawfully seized, there is a rebuttable presumption that the victim has been transported in interstate or foreign commerce. This presumption does not prevent a federal investigation before the 24-hour period has elapsed.
- Conspiracy and Attempt: The law also covers conspiracy to violate its provisions. If two or more people conspire to commit a kidnapping offense and take overt acts to achieve the conspiracy’s objective, each person involved can be punished. Additionally, attempting to violate the law is punishable by imprisonment for up to 20 years.
- Jurisdiction over Internationally Protected Persons: The United States can exercise jurisdiction over offenses committed against internationally protected persons outside the country if the victim is a representative, officer, employee, or agent of the United States, or if the alleged offender is a U.S. national or is subsequently found in the United States.
- Enhanced Sentencing for Victims Under 18: If the victim of a kidnapping offense under this section is under 18 years of age and the offender is not a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or someone with legal custody of the victim, the sentence for such offense must include imprisonment for not less than 20 years.
These provisions aim to address cases of kidnapping that involve crossing state lines or other federal jurisdictional aspects. It’s important to consult with a qualified attorney for legal advice and assistance if you or someone you know is facing charges under the Lindbergh Law or any related federal kidnapping offense.
Find A Dallas County Defense Attorney for Kidnapping Defense Lawyer | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Kidnapping is a severe, emotionally-charged offense the state of Texas takes very seriously. If you have been charged with a kidnapping-related offense, contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (972) 233-5700 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Irving, Dallas, Carrolton, Richardson, and surrounding areas of Dallas County, Texas. Our firm will work to potentially get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed.