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Kidnapping in Texas
Kidnapping is usually an emotionally delicate situation that mostly has a permanent stigma to the offender as well as the victim. If you are facing kidnapping charges, there is a high possibility that you were acting within your right. Wading through the legal complexities of your case will require the professional help of an experienced attorney from our highly capable legal team. According to criminal law, kidnapping is the act of taking away or transporting an individual without their consent. It also involves confining the victim or placing them under false imprisonment without the legal right to do so. Kidnapping can also entail forcing another person into a vehicle and transporting them elsewhere, or locking them in a room to prevent their escape. In order to understand the level of charges and the penalties that you might face from the prosecution, there are two key terms under the Texas legal code that you should know. They include;
This is the act of taking someone without their permission and hiding them to prevent their rescue.
Restraint involves restricting the movement of an individual by moving them from one place to another or by confining them to a specific location without their consent.
It is important to note that lack of consent is present under the following scenarios;
Use of violence or threat to make the victim submit
- The victim is a child under the age of 14 years, and the parents or legal guardians are unaware or have not provided consent.
- The victim is a child between age 14 to 17 years of age and has been relocated out of the state or a distance of 120-mile radius from their home.
Kidnapping in Texas is usually filed against an offender, under the Texas law or the federal statute. Federal prosecutors act through the local branch represented by the Office of the United States’ Attorney General. The state prosecutors act through the office of the district attorney’s office. Both federal and state prosecutors file charges depending on the situations where someone takes another person against their will and without their consent and places them in a confined area preventing their escape.
Kidnapping is illegal both under the federal law and the state law, this means that federal arrests and Texas arrests are both possible in kidnapping charges. It is important to note that federal law takes over in areas where the state laws can’t apply in kidnapping cases. For example, according to the Lindbergh Law, when a kidnapped victim is taken outside the state lines, then federal agents have the authority to aid in the kidnapping case.
A kidnapping case can turn into a complicated situation involving both federal and state investigations. You can help your case by finding the best kidnapping lawyers in Texas who are familiar with both federal and state laws regarding kidnapping charges and penalties.
Kidnapping cases in Texas today do not often entail the traditional idea of kidnapping that existed in the past where an individual was kidnapped for ransom. Today, it is becoming quite common for parents to face kidnapping charges when dealing with ex-spouses over children’s custody issues.
Kidnapping and Aggravated Kidnapping in Texas
Under the Texas law, kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping are considered to be separate charges, with each carrying different sentences and penalties upon conviction. The two charges have two common factors during prosecution. The factors are i) the abduction of someone and i) illegal restraint. Though both charges are categorized as felony charges, aggravated kidnapping is a much more serious offense that carries a possible 99 years of imprisonment.
As a first degree felony, the penalties for aggravated kidnapping ranges from 5 to 99 years. In some cases, you might face life imprisonment and a fine amounting to $10,000. The following circumstances fall under aggravated kidnapping.
i)The defendant held the victim for reward or ransom.
- ii) If the defendant terrorized, inflicted bodily harm or used a weapon on the victim
iii) Interference with a government or political function as a result of kidnapping is also categorized under the first-degree felony.
You might face possible second-degree felony if you allegedly released the victim voluntarily by taking them to a safe location. The penalties range from 2 to 20 years with a fine of up to
$10, 000 depending on the details of the kidnapping case and your defense.
Facing unlawful restraint charges without being charged for kidnapping is possible. The pre-charge negotiations between the prosecutor and your defense attorney can lead to an agreement or a plea deal of unlawful restraint charges rather than kidnapping.
Unlawful restraint is considered a misdemeanor, while kidnapping is categorized as a felony offense. Your defense team will, therefore, fiercely focus on the element of abduction by reviewing the evidence (if any) that shows that the defendant had the means or intent to restrain the victim by curtailing their freedom.
According to the Texas Penal Code, Section 20.02, it is against the law to knowingly restrain another person.
Section 20.01 describes restraint as; the restriction of an individual’s movement without his/ her consent to allow substantial interference with that person’s liberty, by relocating them from one place to another or confining them in a specific space.
The law defines restraint without consent if it was accomplished by the following scenarios.
-The restraint involved deception, force, or intimidation of the victim. All these points to the lack of consent of the victim, which points to the act being unlawful.
– The use of any means such as the permission of the victim if ;
- i) The victim is less than 14 years or is an incompetent person whose legal guardian/parent has not approved confinement or relocation.
ii)If the victim is aged between 14 to 17 years and is taken across the state lines or outside a 120-mile radius of their home.
The Texas Penal code section 20.01 (2) differentiates abduction from restraint. The term “Abduction” is defined as restraining a person with the intent to prevent their freedom by i) keeping them somewhere where they are less likely to be found and ii) threatening or using deadly force.
Proof of Abduction
The extent of your charges will depend on the ability of the prosecutor to provide evidence of abduction as a way of establishing unlawful restraint as a felony. If there exists sufficient evidence of abduction, then the prosecutor might go further to prove the presence of aggravated kidnapping, which is a more serious offense.
Possible Defenses Against Kidnapping in Texas
The federal kidnapping statute categorizes consent as a valid defense to kidnapping. An experienced attorney will be able to successfully prove to the court that the victim initially provided consent. The law states that the victim must have been taken and relocated against their will for the crime of kidnapping. If there is evidence showing that the alleged victim gave consent to the defendant to take them to a given location, then there was no kidnapping. Establishing defense to prove that the alleged victim gave consent can be challenging if you lack a competent attorney who is well versed with kidnapping laws and cases.
There are situations where criminal charges arise as a result of a mistake. This is a common scenario in split families where one ex-spouse doesn’t comprehend the custody arrangements and how they are supposed to work. If you find yourself in such a situation, then your defense lawyer might be able to get the charges dropped if you can prove that you unknowingly kidnapped your child.
There are situations where an individual might be threatened to commit a crime such as kidnapping. If you were under duress as a result of being threatened to abduct someone without their consent and move to another location, then you might use it as a defense. Your attorney should be able to gather proof showing that you were acting against your will. If you were threatened using unlawful force or serious bodily harm, then such information can be used as a viable defense that will get a favorable deal.
You might get a lower sentence if your legal team can prove that you released the victim in a safe place away from danger. Your lawyer can negotiate for a reduced fine by making a deal with the prosecutor.
Your defense attorney can argue that there was no intent to use deadly force during the kidnapping. If he/she can prove that there was no such intent, then you might get a favorable outcome.
In a situation where a parent from a split family takes a child and moves them to another location without the consent of the other parent or legal guardian, the defense can argue that the defendant is related to the victim. This can get you reduced penalties or the charges being dropped depending on the details of the case.
This defense can be used in a kidnapping case involving a child. If your defense attorney can prove that you aimed to take lawful control of the alleged victim, then you might have a strong case. For instance, a parent that takes a child away from a harmful situation such as an abusive or a negligent ex-spouse can get the kidnapping charges dropped.
What Should You Do If You Are Facing Kidnapping Charges?
Regardless of the criminal charges brought against you, the best thing to do is to exercise your fifth amendment right, which protects you from self-incrimination. The first mistake that most defendants usually do is falling into the trap of explaining themselves so as not to look guilty. If you are under investigation, you should politely ask to speak to your lawyer. Since it is your legal right, you should use it at all times.
Your criminal defense attorney will then guide you on what to do and how they will be able to help with the case.
Why You Need a Defense Attorney for Your Kidnapping Charges
A criminal defense attorney has vast knowledge regarding kidnapping laws and will, therefore, take an aggressive and comprehensive approach towards getting you the best outcome for your case. A defense attorney is usually extensive and will look into the details of the case, such as if the charges are made up or the mistakes done by the police during the investigation and whether there are legal issues arising from your situation.
A criminal defense attorney will use the details discovered by the prosecutor and also conduct his/her investigation to gather the facts of the case. Your attorney will analyze the police reports, lab reports, and the lawful nature of your arrest as well as other inc=vestigative notes.
Your legal team will act in your best interest by visiting the scene of the alleged crime and interviewing the witnesses. In certain situations, your legal counsel might hire a private detective or a forensic specialist to gather more information about the case. The next step would be to negotiate the best plea deal available for resolving your case. The sooner you involve your criminal defense lawyer in your case, the better your chances will be of getting a lower jail term or reduced fines.
Kidnapping allegations can damage your reputation and, eventually, your entire life. If you get convicted of kidnapping, you might spend a part of your life behind bars or even worse, life imprisonment. Offenses related to kidnapping can have a significant impact on your future. Your livelihood and freedom might be jeopardized. You might lose privileges such as the right to vote, acquiring professional licenses, and even having a drivers’ license.
Kidnapping is a serious crime that requires the skills of an experienced defense lawyer who can help you navigate through the complex nature of a kidnapping case. Get in touch with our attorneys as soon as you are arrested. Ask for your phone call and talk to your lawyer before taking any steps.
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