The media often portrays kidnapping as a stranger abducting a child. While this is undoubtedly a circumstance that could lead to a kidnapping charge, other circumstances fall under the definition of kidnappings as well, including one parent taking a child while they are in the custody of the other parent. If prosecutors accuse you of kidnapping, an experienced Brownsville kidnapping attorney from Kenny Perez Law can defend you against these charges.
How Texas Defines Kidnapping
More than Texans file 40,000 new missing person reports each year. While many of these reports involve children who ran away or adults who voluntarily left, about 15 percent involved family abductions (with parents taking children in custody battles), while 3 to 4 percent involved non-family abductions. Fewer than 1 percent of the missing person cases in Texas involved stranger abductions, which pose the highest risk of injury or death for the abductee.
According to Texas law, kidnapping occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly abducts another person.
However, the law provides defenses against this charge, including:
- The abduction did not involve the intent or threat of deadly force.
- The abductor was related to the person they abducted.
- The sole intent of the abductor was to gain legal control of the victim.
Texas law makes unlawful restraint a crime. The law notes that retraining a person means restricting their movements without their consent, while abducting them involves hiding them where they are not likely to be found or restraining them through the use or threat of deadly force.
The law generally makes unlawful restraint a misdemeanor charge and provides defenses for adults restraining their own children, it becomes a felony if the person restrained was under 17, was a public servant discharging an official duty, or the restraint was in retaliation of the official duty or power of that public servant, or the abductee was recklessly exposed to a substantial risk of bodily injury.
Aggravated kidnapping occurs when an alleged perpetrator:
- Took an abductee to hold them for ransom or reward.
- Took an abductee to use them as a shield or hostage.
- Took an abductee to commit or flee from a felony.
- Intended to inflict bodily injury on the abducted person or to abuse them sexually.
- Wanted to terrorize the person or a third party.
- Wanted to interfere with a government or political function.
Authorities generally charge aggravated kidnapping as a first-degree felony. However, if the defendant can show that they dropped the abducted person off at a safe place, prosecutors can reduce the charge to a second-degree felony.
The Penalties Associated with Kidnapping
If prosecutors charge you with unlawful restraint as a misdemeanor, the penalties include up to one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.
A simple kidnapping charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
An aggravated kidnapping charge is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 99 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the charge is reduced to a second-degree felony due to the defendant dropping the abductee off in a safe place, the potential penalties on conviction include 20 years in state prison and a fine of $10,000.
How a Brownsville Kidnapping Attorney Can Help
Kidnapping charges come with severe consequences on conviction, including lengthy incarceration and a felony record that will follow the individual for the remainder of their life. If you are accused of kidnapping, speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The best way to avoid a felony conviction is to get prosecutors to drop charges with one in the first place. Having an attorney involved in your case from the start provides the best opportunity to avoid having the felony charge filed.
If prosecutors already charged you with kidnapping, your defense attorney can work to explore the options available to you, which can include:
- Accepting a plea bargain with the prosecution would allow you to plead guilty to a lesser charge or plead as charged in exchange for lesser consequences and the avoidance of trial.
- Preparing your defense in court. Some of the common defenses against kidnapping charges include the abductor lacking knowledge that they were abducting someone, there was no deadly force involved, the defendant was a relative of the victim, or the defendant’s only purpose in kidnapping the victim was to gain lawful control of them.
Even if you face a likely conviction for the crime, your criminal defense attorney can work to make extenuating factors known to the judge or jury that are worth considering and could result in a lighter sentence, such as a lack of a previous record or the fact that the victim in an aggravated kidnapping case was let go in a safe place. Contact Kenny Perez Law today.
Charged With Kidnapping? Contact Kenny Perez Law
If you face kidnapping charges in Brownsville, your freedom, finances, reputation, and future are all on the line. You need an attorney who can protect your rights throughout your case.
They can explore the legal options available to you and provide you with guidance throughout the entire process so that you can make informed decisions about your case. We understand that many situations appear to be kidnappings on the surface but involve extenuating circumstances. Let our Brownsville kidnapping attorney help you tell your side of the story.
For a free case evaluation, contact Kenny Perez Law online or call (956) 544-9292.
Kenny Perez Law
1900 N Exp 77. Suite A,
Brownsville, Texas 78521
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