Kidnapping Defense Attorney in Fort Myers
Federal defense attorney David Joffe can help you
After the famous Lindbergh kidnapping, Congress enacted the Federal Kidnapping Act in 1932. The intent behind the law was to authorize the federal government to help state and local law enforcement agencies investigate kidnapping cases across state lines. Florida and other states have enacted their own versions of the kidnapping law to prosecute kidnappers at the state level. Most kidnapping cases are prosecuted under state law. However, there are certain factors that can make a kidnapping case a matter of federal jurisdiction. A Fort Myers kidnapping defense lawyer from Joffe Law, P.A. is available to defend people who have been charged with federal or state kidnapping.
Federal kidnapping charges
Anyone who illegally seizes, abducts, kidnaps, confines, decoys, or carries away and holds a person for ransom or reward may be charged with kidnapping. Generally, a federal charge will only apply if the kidnapping crosses state lines and if the victim has not been returned unharmed within 24 hours. Federal law makes an exception for situations that involve parents and their children.
Kidnapping laws in Fort Myers
Florida’s kidnapping statute defines kidnapping as the use or threat of force to abduct, confine, or act secretly to imprison a person against his or her will. Florida law also considers it kidnapping if one person detains another while engaging in another felony act in the interest of hiding the felony offense or making it easier to commit the felony. For example, a bank robber may also be charged with kidnapping if he or she locks the bank’s security guard in an office to make it easier to rob the bank.
Florida’s three-prong test
Courts in Florida use a three-prong test to determine whether an act that occurs while a felony is in progress meets the definition of kidnapping. The act will be considered kidnapping if:
- the movement or confinement was not slight or inconsequential and merely incidental to the felony
- the movement or confinement was not inherent in the nature of the felony
- the movement or confinement must be of an independent significance that makes it easier to do the felonious act or to avoid detection
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
Florida kidnapping cases in which the victim is under 13 are charged as aggravated kidnapping. Sentencing is more severe for aggravated kidnapping than in cases in which the victim is 14 or older. If convicted, a defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of life in state prison or a split sentence of 25 years in prison and 25 years on probation.
Repeat offenders charged with kidnapping in Fort Myers
Individuals who have been previously convicted of a violent felony or an attempt or conspiracy to commit a violent felony may be subjected to enhanced sentencing if they are convicted of another felony offense. Florida refers to people with a history of violent felony charges as habitual violent felony offenders if they are brought up on felony charges stemming from a new incident. Defendants who have a previous kidnapping conviction may be sentenced to a maximum of life in state prison if convicted of a repeat kidnapping offense.
Ransom in federal kidnapping cases
The federal statute defines ransom as money or property that is received in exchange for a kidnapped person’s release. The individual who demands the ransom is not the only person who may be charged with a federal offense. Knowingly receiving, disposing of, or possessing money or property received as ransom is a federal offense. Even in kidnapping cases that are prosecuted under state law, anyone who transports, transmits, or transfers a known ransom across state lines can be charged with a federal crime. Therefore, an individual does not have to be directly involved in the act of kidnapping someone to be charged under the federal kidnapping statute. Moreover, in cases in which the actual kidnapper is facing a state charge, anyone who transfers ransom money across state lines can be subjected to a federal charge, which may carry more severe sentencing than the kidnapping. A defendant who is convicted under the federal ransom statute may be sentenced to life in prison if the kidnapper actually completed the kidnapping. Federal ransom cases in which the victim died during the course of the kidnapping are death penalty-eligible.
Types of Kidnapping cases
Kidnapping is the foundation of a ransom charge. In most cases, the kidnapper is also the person who requests the ransom. Nevertheless, there are cases in which a kidnapper works with a group, and other individuals arrange and collect the ransom money.
Hostage-taking is similar to kidnapping as it involves detaining and threatening another person. The key difference is an element that is most similar to blackmail or extortion with a violent twist. Instead of simply demanding ransom, the hostage-taker threatens to act against the victim if a third party or government agency does not comply with the hostage-taker’s specific request.
International parental kidnapping occurs when a parent takes a child outside of the country without authorization. The federal government does not assume jurisdiction in kidnapping cases unless the parent transports the child abroad. However, the parent may be convicted under Florida’s parental abduction statute. These cases are more common among parents who are separated and do not agree on the custody arrangements. In other cases, a parent who has been out of a child’s life may return and transport the child across state lines. There are also situations in which a parent may misunderstand his or her custody agreement and take a child on a vacation or to visit family abroad without properly obtaining authorization.
Federal kidnapping involving a minor
Special rules apply to kidnapping cases in which the victim is a minor. If a victim is under 18 and the kidnapper is not one of the victim’s family members. Federal law enforcement agents are authorized to automatically presume the victim has been transported in interstate or foreign commerce if he or she has not been safely returned within 24 hours. The effect of the presumption is to grant jurisdiction that allows the federal government to investigate and pursue charges in any kidnapping in which a minor is missing or illegally detained for longer than 24 hours.
Fort Myers kidnapping lawyers can help
Both federal and state kidnapping laws are complex. If you or someone you know has been accused of kidnapping, seek legal counsel immediately. Our federal criminal defense attorney is experienced in state and federal kidnapping cases. Contact us today to learn more about potential defenses against a kidnapping charge. We offer free case evaluations, and we will protect your privacy by keeping your personal information confidential. Florida kidnapping cases in which the victim is under 13 are charged as aggravated kidnapping. Sentencing is more severe for aggravated kidnapping than in cases in which the victim is 14 or older. If convicted, a defendant may be sentenced to a maximum of life in state prison or a split sentence of 25 years in prison and 25 years on probation.