Kidnapping is a term that may refer to a number of different crimes in DC. While the traditional definition of kidnapping involves unlawfully seizing, abducting, or confining another person against their will or holding a person for ransom, there are also statutory parental kidnapping offenses that could be violated without any sort of abduction.
kidnapping might be charged as either a violation of District of Columbia law or federal law. If you are facing kidnapping charges in DC, it may be a good idea to consult a knowledgeable Washington DC kidnapping lawyer. A well-practiced criminal attorney may understand the different laws that may come into play in building the best defensive strategy based on your particular situation.
The basic kidnapping charge is a felony offense under DC criminal law. Based on the definition in section 22-2001 of the District of Columbia code, this offense could be committed when someone takes one of the following actions with respect to another person for ransom, reward, or otherwise:
As a Washington DC attorney might explain, a person who assists another in committing those actions also may be convicted of kidnapping. It must also be noted that if two or more people conspire to commit a kidnapping and one of those people takes a single action in furtherance of the offense, then all those involved in the conspiracy could be treated as if they had committed the planned kidnapping.
The statute specifies that kidnapping is a Class A felony and those convicted may be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and fined up to $75,000.
There are many circumstances that could turn a kidnapping into a federal offense. If the kidnapper uses the mail in connection with the offense or if the person kidnapped is a federal or foreign official, the crime violates federal kidnapping provisions. The crime may also be federally prosecuted if it occurs on an aircraft or at sea in U.S. waters.
The most common circumstance that may cause a kidnapping to be treated as a federal offense is when the kidnapped person is transported across state lines. Moreover, the federal statute involved specifies that if a person who has been kidnapped is not released within 24 hours, there is a rebuttable presumption that the person has been moved across state lines or into international territory.
The federal government could take over after 24 hours unless it is affirmatively shown that the kidnapped person is still within the same state as when abducted. (18 U.S.C. §1201)
Kidnapping is punishable under federal law by up to 20 years of imprisonment, but this 20-year maximum becomes a mandatory minimum if the kidnapped individual is less than 18 years of age and is abducted by someone aged 18 or older who is not an immediate family member or legal guardian. Conspiracy to commit a kidnapping is defined similarly to the definition under DC law and punishable by “any term of years or for life.”
A person facing federal kidnapping charges could consult an attorney in Washington DC and begin building a defense.
Since parental kidnapping usually involves a different situation than other kidnapping cases, it is treated uniquely under the law. If a parent (or someone taking directions from a parent) hides a child from the other parent, or if any relative takes a child from a guardian without valid justification, that person may be convicted of parental kidnapping (D.C. Code §16-1022).
Penalties for this offense may vary depending on the circumstances, but they are less severe than in other kidnapping situations. If the child is kept within the District of Columbia, the kidnapping may be treated as a misdemeanor punishable by community service obligations and a fine. If the child is taken out of DC, the crime becomes a felony, and the penalties increase in severity if the child remains out the custody of the legal guardian for more than 30 days. A skilled attorney could help someone accused of parental kidnapping in Washington DC protect their best interests and clear their name.
The circumstances of an alleged kidnapping situation may be extremely important in establishing the severity of an offense or whether an offense occurred at all. So, it is vital to collect, preserve and present the right evidence in order to build a proper defense.
If you are facing kidnapping charges, an experienced Washington DC kidnapping lawyer could not only handle the evidence but could also advocate on your behalf throughout the process to help reach the best possible outcome. Call our office today to learn more about your options.
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