Kidnapping is one of the most serious criminal charges made against suspects in California. Simple kidnapping can carry a prison sentence of up to eight years, while aggravated kidnapping can lead to a sentence of life in state prison. If you face the serious criminal charge of kidnapping, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who specializes in handling kidnapping cases.
How Does California Define Kidnapping?
California Penal code 207 defines kidnapping as “every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, steals or takes, or holds, detains, or arrests any person in this state, and carries the person into another country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping.”
Aggravated kidnapping, which is a criminal charge that can lead to a life in prison sentence, includes one or more of the following acts:
- Using force or fear on a victim younger than 14 years
- Issuing a ransom demand
- Caused serious bodily harm or death to the victim
- Carjacked the victim
How to Defend Kidnapping Charges in California
Like other types of criminal charges, the key to defending a kidnapping charge is to plant seeds of doubt into the minds of one or more jurors. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” represents the burden of proof a prosecutor needs to establish to earn a conviction for kidnapping.
Here’s how to plant the seeds of reasonable doubt in a kidnapping case:
Consent Given by Victim
To prove a kidnapping charge, a prosecutor must demonstrate that the defendant moved the victim against his or her will. If the criminal defense attorney can show the victim gave the defendant consent to be moved, then there was not any action taken that forced the victim to move unwillingly. This defense requires building credibility for the defendant among the jurors.
Sometimes, a kidnapping charge is the result of an honest mistake. This defense works especially well in cases that involve split families, as one parent does not understand the custody arrangements agreed to in a divorce agreement. The mistaken action defense often involves young children, which triggers the charge of aggravated kidnapping.
Acted Under Duress
Under the threat of blackmail or violence, a defendant can commit a criminal act such as kidnapping. Threats of death or bodily injury can produce more than enough fear and anxiety to cause someone to carry out a criminal act. Successfully using this defense requires the testimony of at least one witness who was involved in threatening and/or using force against the defendant.
Violation of the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution
Like most criminal cases, the prosecution must rely on physical evidence to gain a conviction. Law enforcement often has to search the vehicle and/or the residence of the suspect to discover physical evidence. This requires a judge-approved search warrant. Without gaining a search warrant, any evidence found by law enforcement is considered not relevant to the prosecution’s case.
We have defended criminal cases that included an unconstitutional search and seizure of physical evidence.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
If you face the criminal charge of kidnapping, there is too much at stake to allow your case to be in the hands of an inexperienced criminal defense lawyer. California criminal defense attorney Dan E. Chambers has successfully defended clients against the serious charge of kidnapping by using a defense that leaves a reasonable doubt in the minds of at least one juror.
Schedule a free case evaluation today by calling the Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088.