The State of California takes the crime of kidnapping seriously, and, if convicted of this felony, individuals face years of imprisonment and heavy fines. Kidnapping is the use of force or fear to move another person, without their consent, and knowing that they did not consent. As with other crimes, the prosecutor has the burden of proof and must set forth evidence supporting all elements of the crime. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, experienced Riverside kidnapping defense lawyer Gregory H. Comings investigates the circumstances surrounding each case and tailors his legal strategy appropriately, providing clients the strongest defense possible. If you have been charged with kidnapping and are seeking legal representation, we are prepared to advocate on your behalf.Kidnapping Charges in California
California Penal Code section 207(a) defines the crime of kidnapping. As a serious felony, kidnapping counts as a strike on a criminal record. In addition to up to eight years imprisonment and a fine of $10,000, if there are aggravating circumstances the sentence can extend to life in prison.
Prosecutors seeking to hold a defendant liable for kidnapping must show that they held another person through force or by instilling fear; and using that force or fear they moved the other person a substantial distance; the other person did not consent to the movement, and; the defendant did not actually and reasonably believe that the other person consented to the movement. Contact a kidnapping defense attorney in Riverside to learn more.
Using force or fear to move someone means actually inflicting physical force upon the victim, or threatening to inflict imminent physical harm. Fear can include threats to harm the victim’s family if they do not meet demands. Threats to abuse the victim if they do not comply have also met the fear requirement, such as has demanding the victim comply while they are held at gunpoint.
A substantial distance is more than a slight, trivial distance. Determining whether a distance is substantial requires looking at all circumstances relating to the movement. Considerations include the actual distance moved, whether the movement decreased the likelihood of being caught, and whether the movement increased the risk of harm to the victim. Whether the movement is substantial enough is a question of fact for the judge or jury to decide.Asserting a Strong Legal Defense to Reduce or Dismiss Charges
A strong legal defense can help to reduce or even dismiss kidnapping charges. If the defendant was not aware of a kidnapping plan, but simply present, then they may be acquitted of charges. However, the crime of aiding and abetting may apply if they knew the illegal plan ahead of time and intentionally facilitated or encouraged the plan. It is best to seek counsel from a Riverside kidnapping defense attorney.
Another defense is that the defendant reasonably and actually believed the other person consented to the movement. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to show that the defendant did not reasonably and actually believe the other person consented to the movement. A defendant will not be guilty of kidnapping if the prosecution did not meet this burden.
Another defense is consent by the alleged victim. The other person would have consented if they freely and voluntarily agreed to go with, or be moved by the defendant. They must also be aware of the movement and have had sufficient maturity that they would have chosen to go with the defendant. A child or someone with a mental condition incapable of consent requires different consideration. An example would include an alleged victim that consented to go for a car ride without a destination. If later, the victim states she wants to return home once you have stopped driving, she has not been kidnapped because she consented to the movement. However, if the victim wants to go home and you continue to drive her, against her will, consent will not serve as a valid defense.Consult an Experienced Riverside Lawyer to Understand Your Legal Rights
A skilled kidnapping defense lawyer in Riverside will present your legal options in a clear manner. Attorney Comings brings more than a decade of experience to his representation of people facing serious criminal charges. Our office is proud to serve clients throughout the areas of Palm Desert, Temecula, Palm Springs, Fontana, Highland, San Bernardino, and Rancho Cucamonga. At the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings, we provide a free case evaluation and can be reached by calling (951) 686-3457 or through our online form.