Every state has laws against kidnapping, but you’ll face federal kidnapping charges if the crime involves crossing state lines. Taking someone against their will to another state or out of the country brings charges under the Federal Kidnapping Act. As with kidnapping charges in Florida, federal charges can result in a sentence of life in prison.
However, with federal charges, you are up against the virtually unlimited power and resources of the United States Department of Justice as opposed to a state prosecutor, so it’s important to have an experienced and aggressive federal criminal attorney. If you face federal charges in Florida, call the Orlando criminal defense attorneys at the Rivas Law Firm. We can help you protect your rights and fight for your freedom. Call 407-644-2466 for a free consultation.
Is Kidnapping Always a Federal Crime?
Most kidnappings are child abductions are perpetrated by parents or other family members in custody disputes. These Parental Abductions, also called Domestic Dispute Child Kidnappings, are generally handled by state law enforcement agencies.
The federal kidnapping laws that come into play when a child is taken to another state or country are mainly to help state law enforcement locate and return the child. In these cases, the federal government may operate under the Fugitive Felon Act or the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act.
Section 1201(b) of 18 U.S. Code allows the FBI to become involved if a kidnapped person is held for more than 24 hours after being abducted, in effect making it a federal crime on the assumption that the victim has been taken across state lines or out of the country. This is meant more as an investigatory tool rather than enforcement. If the victim has been found not to have been transported out of state, then state authorities will generally prosecute the case.
What is the federal law regarding kidnapping?
Federal kidnapping is defined by 18 U.S.C. § 1201 as unlawfully seizing, confining, abducting, or carrying away any person and holding them for ransom or reward or otherwise, except in the case of a minor by the parent thereof. However, not every kidnapping case falls under federal jurisdiction. The federal government can only prosecute kidnapping if one of the following conditions is met:
– The victim is transported across state or international borders, or the offender travels or uses any means of interstate or foreign commerce in committing or furthering the offense;
– The victim is within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, such as on a military base, a national park, or an aircraft;
– The victim is a foreign official, an internationally protected person, or an official guest of the United States;
– The victim is among certain officers and employees of the United States who are kidnapped while performing their official duties.
What are the steps in a federal kidnapping case?
The steps in a federal kidnapping case are similar to the steps in a state criminal case. The case will begin with an arrest, followed by an arraignment, a preliminary hearing, a trial, and sentencing.
At the arraignment, you will be informed of the charges against you and asked to enter a plea. You can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you plead guilty, the judge will sentence you immediately. If you plead not guilty, the case will proceed to a preliminary hearing.
At the preliminary hearing, the judge will determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial. If the judge finds that there is sufficient evidence, the case will proceed to trial. At the trial the prosecution will present evidence to prove that you are guilty of kidnapping. You will have the opportunity to present evidence in your defense. The judge or jury will then decide whether you are guilty or not guilty.
The Punishment for Federal Kidnapping Charges
If you are found guilty, the judge will sentence you. The sentence will depend on the facts of your case, including the age of the victim, the severity of the injuries that the victim suffered, and whether the kidnapping resulted in death. The maximum penalty for a kidnapping without aggravating circumstances, for example, if the victim is unharmed, is life in prison. If anyone is killed during the commission of the crime, even if not the kidnapped victim, the enhanced penalty can be the death sentence.
Federal Kidnapping Charges Defense
If you are facing federal kidnapping charges, you need a skilled and experienced defense attorney who can challenge the prosecution’s evidence and arguments. Some of the possible defenses against federal kidnapping charges are:
– Lack of intent: You did not intend to kidnap or harm the victim, but acted under duress, coercion, mistake, or accident;
– Consent: The victim consented to go with you or stay with you voluntarily, and there was no force, fraud, or deception involved;
– Alibi: You were not present at the scene of the crime or had no involvement in the kidnapping;
– Insanity: You were suffering from a mental disorder that impaired your ability to understand or control your actions at the time of the offense;
– Entrapment: You were induced by a government agent or informant to commit a crime that you would not have otherwise committed.
These are just some examples of potential defenses that may apply to your case. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, your defense attorney may also challenge the jurisdiction, venue, indictment, evidence, witnesses, or sentencing. Your federal defense attorney will work diligently to protect your rights and interests and seek the best possible outcome for your case.
If you face federal charges, it’s best to talk to an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call 407-644-2466 for a free consultation with an Orlando federal criminal defense lawyer at the Rivas Law Firm. We’ll work hard to protect your rights and your freedom.