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Kidnapping

When most people hear about kidnapping, images of Hollywood thrillers featuring abductions and hefty ransoms come to mind. However, kidnapping is often an unplanned crime that you can commit without even realizing it. Kidnapping entails taking a person from one place to another against their will. Confining a person in a controlled environment against their will also qualifies as kidnapping.  If you are a parent without legal custody rights, you may face kidnapping charges for taking your child without following the necessary procedures. If you are facing kidnapping charges in Phoenix, Arizona, Phoenix Criminal Attorney can help you fight the charges. 

Overview of Kidnapping under Arizona Law

According to Arizona law, you may face kidnapping charges if you restrain the movement of another person on purpose. In the process of restraining the movements of another person, you may cause that person fear of immediate physical harm. For you to face kidnapping charges in Arizona, an attempt to move or hide the victim is not required.

According to Arizona law A.R.S. § 13-1304, there are many reasons as to why a defendant may purposely restrain another person. A person may kidnap another with the intent to hold the victim for ransom, as a shield, or hostage. The aim of kidnapping may also be to subject the victim to involuntary servitude. Kidnappers may also have the aim of inflicting physical injury, sexual molestation, or even death on the victim. The goal of kidnapping may also be to place the victim or another person in fear of imminent harm to the victim or the other person. A defendant may kidnap a victim in order to interfere with the performance of various functions, including government functions or political functions. It is common for a defendant to kidnap either a pilot or a driver to gain control of a plane, ship, train, or any other vehicle. 

According to Arizona law, if a defendant does not voluntarily release the victim without inflicting physical injury before the arrest and without committing an additional offense, he/she will face class 2 felony charges. If a defendant voluntarily releases the victim without causing him/her physical injury, the defendant faces class 4 felony charges, which are lower than class 2 felony charges.  For the defendant to face class 4 felony charges, he/she must voluntarily release the victim prior to an arrest and without committing an additional offense.

The defendant faces class 3 felony charges if he/she releases the victim pursuant to an agreement with the state and without inflicting physical harm on the victim. It is important to note that if the victim of kidnapping is below the age of fifteen years, the defendant will face class 2 felony charges. The penalties for kidnapping a person below the age of 15 years, includes life imprisonment.  The sentence for this felony runs consecutively to any other sentence that the defendant may be facing. If the defendant has an undischarged term of imprisonment, the sentence will run consecutively to the sentence.

Elements of the Crime of Kidnapping

For the prosecutor to prove that you are guilty of kidnapping under California law, he/she has to prove several elements of the crime.  You are presumed innocent until the prosecutor proves otherwise in court. To face charges for the crime of kidnapping, it must be evident that:

You acted knowingly

This means that at the time of committing the crime, you acted consciously, and you had full knowledge of your actions. This means that you acted on purpose, knowing all too well that your actions were likely to stir up fear of physical harm in the victim. 

Physically restrained a person

To face kidnapping charges in Arizona, it must be evident that you physically restrained another person. Restraining a person means moving them from one place or another without consent. It also means retaining a person in a controlled place without their permission. A restrained person does not have the freedom of movement and the freedom to engage in activities that he/she may desire. 

You may physically restrain a victim with the intention of moving him or her. You may also physically drag the victim to another location again his/her will. You may also face charges if you beat or assault the victim to the extent that the victim has no power left to resist your actions. 

In the case of a child or an old person, physically restraining the victim may not be a necessary proof of kidnapping. The physical strength of a child or an old person cannot match your physical strength. Therefore, you may face kidnapping charges even if you did not use force on the victim, and even if the victim did not resist your actions. 

Intent

Intent means that you were aware that your actions were unlawful. For instance, anyone would know that it is wrong to control another person and restrain them against their wishes. Restraining does not have to be rough, as long as you limit the movements of another person, you may face kidnapping charges.

Victim Suffered Fear or Apprehension of Imminent Physical Harm

It must also be evident that your actions caused the victim apprehension of imminent physical harm. You may make a victim experience fear of imminent harm in a number of ways. For instance, you may make the victim comply to your demands by holding the victim at gunpoint and making the victim comply with your demands.  You may also instill a fear of imminent harm by threatening the victim. For instance, you may threaten the victim with the infliction of physical or sexual harm if the victim fails to give in to your demands.  You may also cause fear of imminent harm by threatening to harm the victim's family if the victim fails to comply with your demands.

Penalties for Kidnapping under Arizona Law

The penalties of kidnapping under Arizona law vary depending on the issues surrounding the case. A kidnapping offense may fall under class 4 felonies, class 3 felonies, or class 2 felonies. The penalties for the crime will depend on the class of felony under which your offense falls:

Class 4 Felony

If you commit kidnapping and you voluntarily release the victim before your arrest, you will face Class 4 felony charges. You have to release the victim without any form of physical injury, and you must not commit an additional offense. The penalties for class 4 felony may include imprisonment of up to 3.75 years. The court may also recommend probation for a period of 4 years. The court may also require you to pay a fine amounting to $150,000.

Class 3 Felony

When do you face class 3 felony charges for kidnapping a victim in Arizona? You will face class three felony charges if you release the victim after negotiating with the government. To face class 3 felony charges, you have to release the victim without inflicting any physical injury on them. The penalties for class 3 felony include imprisonment ranging from five years to fifteen years. You may also serve probation for up to 5 years. The court may also impose on you a fine of $150,000.

Class 2 Felony

You face class 2 felony charges if the victim of kidnapping is a child below the age of 15 years. You face class 2 felony charges if you do not voluntarily release a victim before your arrest and without inflicting any physical harm on the victim. The charges for class 2 felony include imprisonment ranging from 7 years to 21 years. This imprisonment period applies if there are no aggravating factors to your offense. If aggravating factors exist, you may face a more extended imprisonment period. The court may require you to serve seven years of imprisonment. Other penalties include a hefty fine of up to $150,000.

Legal Defenses to Kidnapping Charges in Arizona

With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, it is possible to have your kidnapping charges reduced. If you manage to prove in court that you are not guilty of kidnapping, the court may dismiss the kidnapping charges altogether. Some of the common defenses for kidnapping charges under Arizona law include:

Victim's Consent

To face kidnapping charges under Arizona law, it must be evident that you restrained the victim against his/her consent.  If you prove that the victim was in agreement with your actions, you cannot face kidnapping charges. For example, you may be going on a road trip with a friend, when suddenly your friend decides she does not want to continue with the trip. Your friend cannot accuse you of kidnapping because she did not board your vehicle against her will. You are also not restraining her from discontinuing the trip.

It is important to note that children below the age of 15 years or mentally challenged persons are not qualified to give consent. Therefore, if you kidnap a child below the age of fifteen years, you cannot claim that the child had given you consent. The same case applies if you are facing charges for kidnapping a mentally challenged person. You cannot claim that the person has given approval for your actions.

You were Merely Present; You Did Not Kidnap the Victim

You may assert that you did not kidnap the victim, but you were merely present at the scene of the kidnapping.  For instance, you may board a friend's vehicle without knowing that he/she is holding the passengers hostage. If the police later arrest you and your friend for kidnapping, you may assert that you were not aware of your friend's actions. You may assert that you were just present but not involved in the kidnap.  However, if you were aware that your friend was holding a passenger hostage and you did nothing to correct the situation, you may face charges. 

If you are aware of the intentions of the kidnapper and you aid him or her in executing the crime, you may also face kidnapping charges.  You will face the same charges as the actual kidnapper if you are guilty of aiding and abetting the kidnapping. 

False Accusation/ Insufficient Evidence

At times, accusations of kidnapping may rely solely on the word of mouth of the alleged victim without further evidence. It is common for people to accuse others of crimes they may not have committed. The main causes of false accusations include an intention to revenge against a person. A former lover may accuse of kidnapping to get back at you. Another person may accuse you of kidnapping due to jealousy.  Where there is no documented evidence, and the victim is exaggerating his/her side of the story, your criminal defense attorney can help you fight kidnapping charges. 

If you and your attorney are questioning the credibility of the accuser, you may fight accusations of kidnapping as false. When fighting custody battles, it is common for spouses to accuse each other of kidnapping the child. The motivation of the lying spouse is to gain the upper hand in the custody battle by portraying the other spouse as untrustworthy and unreliable. You do not have to worry if you are facing false accusations for kidnapping. A qualified attorney can help to unearth the truth about the case. Upon establishing that you are a victim of false accusations, the court may drop your kidnapping charges.

You Had a Right to be with the Child

If you are facing charges for kidnapping your own child, you may fight the charges by asserting that you have the legal right to be with the child. However, you can only use this defense strategy if you have legal custody of the child. If you have legal custody of your child, you may decide to take the child on a trip without seeking the approval of the other parent. The other parent may accuse you of taking the child from them and assert that you have kidnapped the child. If you can prove that you hold legal custody for the child, you cannot face kidnapping charges.

It is important to note that if you do not have legal custody of the child, you should not take him/her without the consent of the other parent. Even if the child agrees to go with you, as long as he/she is below the age of 15 years, he/she is not capable of giving consent. The other parent may, therefore, accuse you of kidnapping. You cannot argue in court by claiming that the child is yours as well. As long as you are not living together with the other parent, you have to follow the established custody arrangement. 

There are some exceptions to kidnapping a child below the age of 15 years. You cannot face kidnapping charges if you take, steal, harbor, or conceal a child to prevent him/her from the danger of imminent harm. As long as you can prove in court that you were merely protecting a child from imminent harm and you had no intention of keeping him/her from the legal guardians, you cannot face charges. 

Citizen's Arrest

According to Arizona law, a private person may make an arrest if he/she witnesses a commission of a felony by another person.  A private person may also place an offender under a citizen's arrest if the offender commits a misdemeanor offense leading to a breach of peace. Offenses that may lead to a breach of peace include a battery, assault, theft, harassment, disorderly conduct, and cruelty to animals. If a private person has the right to believe that a person has committed a felony offense, he/she may place the person under arrest. 

You cannot face kidnapping charges for placing a person under a citizen's arrest. You cannot face charges even if the arrest entails restraining the alleged offender against his/her consent. Therefore, if you are facing charges for detaining a person guilty of a felony or misdemeanor charges, you can fight the charges in court. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can prove that you were preventing the offender from committing more harm.

When conducting a citizen's arrest, you have the right to confiscate any weapons that the suspect may have.  If you witness the commission of a felony, you have the right to break into the building and restrain the perpetrator of the felony offense.

It is important to note that to conduct a citizen's arrest; you must have witnessed the commission of a felony. You must have a reasonable cause to believe that a person committed the felony. You must also know beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the offense. Conducting an unlawful citizen's arrest may attract some penalties.

Why Do You Need an Attorney?

Arizona law is very harsh to people who commit kidnapping crimes. Kidnapping attracts hefty penalties ranging from long imprisonment periods to very high fines. Even the minimal crimes under felony three still attract imprisonment. Even if you voluntarily release the victim before the police arrest you, you will still face hefty penalties. You will face hefty penalties even if you do not cause any physical harm to the victim. You should not attempt to fight kidnapping charges without legal counsel.

Contact a Phoenix Criminal Lawyer Near Me

If you are currently facing kidnapping charges in Phoenix, Arizona, you do not have to go through it alone.  Phoenix Criminal Attorney can help you come up with the right defense strategy. Contact us at 602-551-8092 and speak to one of our attorneys today.

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