Kidnapping is defined as the taking of a person from one place to another against their will. Kidnapping also occurs when a person is confined to a particular controlled space. Each state has its own statutes regarding kidnapping, and many times, cases can get more complicated when the kidnapping has occurred in several different jurisdictions. Some states also have statutes to charge parents with kidnapping their children when they violate a court custody order.
The Difference Between Federal & State Kidnapping Laws
Usually, kidnapping charges are handled by each individual state. Where the line gets blurry is when the kidnapping has occurred over state lines, which means the federal authorities will get involved. Statute 18 U.S.C. § 1201 indicates that kidnapping is a serious felony offense that can have a prison sentence of over 20 years.
What Are International Kidnapping Laws?
The United States has also made a newer statute 18 U.S.C. § 1204 to deal with the multitude of international kidnappings that have taken place. Aside from the United States statutes, the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction exists and is accepted by more than 80 countries. The purpose behind the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is to return as many children who have been abducted to foreign countries as possible to their parents. When international issues are involved, a kidnapping case automatically becomes more complicated. In these circumstances, it is best to speak with an attorney to learn which options are best to resolve your case as soon as possible.
Are There Any Legal Defenses to Kidnapping?
Kidnapping is defined differently by each state. While there are some potential legal defenses available for kidnapping, they vary by state and the nature of the other crimes associated with each individual kidnapping case. Generally speaking, a defendant may be able to raise the following defenses:
- They did not have an intent to use deadly force on the victim
- Lack of knowledge, ignorance, or mistake of committing a kidnapping
- The defendant is a relative of the victim
- The victim consented to leave with the defendant
- Mental disease, insanity, or defect
What is important to remember about these defenses is that the defendant has the burden of proving their validity to a court, which can be quite challenging to achieve.
What Are AMBER Alerts?
AMBER Alerts are an emergency response system that has been adopted by all 50 states to protect kidnapping victims. AMBER Alerts use the media or text messages to communicate about persons that have recently gone missing. According to police, the first 48 hours are the most critical to rescuing a victim of kidnapping. AMBER Alerts can be used for adults; however, they are most commonly used for minors. AMBER Alerts are very useful because they do interrupt television programs or other radio broadcasts. The objective behind this is to spread the news of the kidnapping as far as possible to help bring back the victim quickly and safely. If a citizen suspects they have seen the victim that has been broadcasted on an AMBER Alert, it is essential to contact their local law enforcement or call 911 as soon as possible. AMBER Alerts have been incredibly effective in recovering kidnapped children, which is why they will continue to be used in the long-term.
Kidnapping is a serious and dangerous offense. Kidnapping is also a high risk when it crosses state lines or international borders. Be sure to actively report any suspected kidnapping cases to protect the victims involved.
Kidnapping Glossary Definition
Kidnapping happens when a person is unlawfully restrained against their own will and taken to another location or concealed. Kidnapping charges vary depending on the state the kidnapping occurs in. If the kidnapping occurs across state lines or the individual is kidnapped and taken outside the United States, the federal laws come into play. Kidnapping charges vary depending on what other crimes are involved with the kidnapping and whether the victim is being kidnapped by one of their own parents.