Houston Kidnapping Lawyers :: The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp
Kidnapping is the act of stealing, carrying off, abducting, or confining a person in a limited space for an illegal purpose, such as gaining a ransom or a reward, facilitating a crime, or terrorizing a victim or a witness. The two necessary elements of a kidnapping accusation are the unlawful taking of a victim and the immoral motive. Therefore, the intent of the suspect helps determine whether a case ends in a dismissal or a conviction.
Types of Kidnapping Charges
In Texas there are four different degrees of kidnapping charges: kidnapping, unlawful restraint, aggravated kidnapping and smuggling of persons. To understand the differences between these charges, one must consider two key legal terms: restraint and abduction.
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To restrain someone means to restrict his movement without his consent. Traditionally, the phrase “without consent” is interpreted as the use of force, intimidation or deception, but the law stipulates that there is a lack of consent if:
- The victim is younger than 14 years of age, and his parent or guardian did not give consent.
- The victim is between 14 and 17 years of age and is taken beyond a 120-mile radius from his residence without his parent or guardian’s consent.
Abduction is the act of hiding or holding a person in a place where he is unlikely to be found. The abductor might also threaten the victim with violence or attempt to prevent the victim’s rescue. preventing the victim’s rescue or threatening violence should a rescue be attempted.
Penalties for a Kidnapping Conviction
A kidnapping suspect faces a third-degree felony charge, which is punishable with two to 10 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines. A convicted kidnapper also faces the following repercussions:
- Creation of a criminal record
- Inability to carry or own a firearm
- Inability to pursue a higher education or some jobs
- Ineligibility to vote or hold public office
- Loss of certain professional licenses
Defending Against Kidnapping Allegations
Matthew Sharp strives to defend his clients against kidnapping accusations. The proper defense strategy against allegations varies from case to case, depending on the circumstances. The most common defenses against kidnapping charges include:
- A strong alibi
- Coercion or duress
- Lack of intent
- Lack of knowledge about kidnapping laws
- Mistaken identity
A defendant may also utilize an affirmative defense. By using an affirmative defense, a defendant admits that he perpetrated the crime, but he had valid reasons for doing so. An affirmative defense allows the accused to face lesser charges or lighter punishments. To be valid, affirmative defenses against kidnapping charges must include three distinct elements:
- The defendant did not use deadly force or threaten to use deadly force during the kidnapping.
- The defendant is a relative of the alleged victim.
- The defendant’s intent was to lawfully control the victim.
Call a Houston Kidnapping Attorney
For expert legal advice and representation, call a criminal defense lawyer The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp to schedule an appointment.