Defending a Kidnapping Charge
The plight of a kidnapped child made national news recently when a 13-year-old boy was found hidden behind a false wall in his father’s home. CNN News is reporting that the child had been missing for more than four years before police located him. His mother reportedly allowed him to visit with his father in 2010. At the conclusion of the agreed visitation period, his father refused to return him. The mother, who is a resident of Florida, was denied any contact with the child or information about his whereabouts for the entire four years.
According to the report, the teenager was able to access a phone and contacted his mother to provide his location in Georgia. She contacted police, who went out the house and conducted a search. The father and his wife reportedly denied that the child was in the home and an initial search did not reveal his presence there. The child was able to contact his mother again and informed her about the hidden wall. After passing on the information to authorities, they returned to the house and located the child.
The CCN report stated that the boy’s father and stepmother were arrested and charged with false imprisonment, along with cruelty to children and obstruction of justice. Police Sgt. Joanne Southerland explained that the obstruction charge was not due to any actions by the couple, as they did not physically impede the search, but she alleged that there was “a lot of deception” She also stated, “They denied knowing the child was in the residence. They had no idea who the child was or why we were there.”
Florida Kidnapping Statutes
Under Florida law, kidnapping is classified as a first degree felony, punishable by imprisonment up to 30 years, along with a $10,000 fine. The elements of the crime include:
- Confinement, abduction or imprisonment of another person against their will
- The action must be committed by force or threat and absent legal authority
- There must be an intent to:
○ Hold the person for ransom or as a hostage;
○ Commit a felony;
○ Terrorize the victim or another party; or
○ Interfere with a political function.
The crime rises to the level of aggravated kidnapping when:
- A dangerous weapon is displayed or used;
- The victim is a law enforcement officer; or
- The victim is a person younger than 13 years old.
Aggravated kidnapping is punishable by a life sentence, or imprisonment of at least 25 years, along with probation for the remainder of the offender’s life.
The severity of these punishments exemplify the serious nature of kidnapping charges in Florida. Accused parties should quickly secure the representation of an attorney to represent their interests within the judicial system. In mounting a defense to kidnapping, an attorney may argue that the accused lack the necessary intent to meet the elements of the crime. Consent by the kidnapped party and insanity are also possible defenses at trial. An experienced attorney can review the details of the incident and determine the best course of action.
If you or a loved one is facing kidnapping charges, Attorneys Mycki Ratzan and Jude Faccidomo can provide you with an aggressive and comprehensive defense. Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC in Miami today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.