Kidnapping Defense Lawyers in Los Angeles
Kidnapping comes with a possible life sentence, and it is no light matter to be charged with this offense. The justice system is confusing and intimidating, and although you are “innocent until proven guilty,” your freedom is at risk.
The good news is that several effective defenses could be presented if you are facing charges of kidnapping. At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we make it our business to provide a powerful, compelling defense and relentlessly pursue a positive outcome for our clients: whether that’s not guilty, a reduced charge, or a lesser sentence.
Kidnapping is defined as the taking of a person somewhere against their will or confining a person to a controlled space against their will by using force, fear, or fraud. Restraint, violence, or the threat of violence must be present in a case of kidnapping.
The laws regarding kidnapping in California are complex, but in simple terms, the four classifications of kidnapping are aggravated kidnapping, simple kidnapping, false imprisonment, and child kidnapping.
Aggravated kidnapping is the most severe crime, defined as a kidnap that meets any of the following criteria:
- Kidnapping for ransom, reward, or to commit extortion
- Kidnapping to commit robbery, rape, or other sexual offenses
- Kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking
- Kidnapping in which the victim suffers, or there is a substantial likelihood of suffering, death or bodily harm
The typical punishment for aggravated kidnapping is life in prison with the possibility of parole. In a case of kidnapping where the victim suffers or has a substantial likelihood of suffering death or bodily harm, the punishment is life without the possibility of parole.
Simple kidnapping is defined as moving another person by force or fear without that person’s consent, for a considerable distance.
Considerable distance is defined as “more than a slight or trivial distance.” In California, it is up to a judge to decide whether the distance is “considerable” or not. As an example, forcibly moving a person within the same house may not be found to be “considerable distance,” whereas moving them to another area of the city may be.
The punishment for simple kidnapping is:
- 3, 5, or 8 years in prison, or
- 5, 8, or 11 years in prison if the victim is under 14 years old
False imprisonment is defined as restraining, detaining, or confining another person without their consent. False imprisonment can be as simple as locking a co-worker in their office or as serious as locking someone in a basement for an extended period. Because you can’t physically kidnap someone without a degree of false imprisonment, false imprisonment charges are often filed along with kidnapping charges.
False imprisonment can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor and carries a maximum of three years in prison.
Child abduction is the crime of maliciously keeping a child from his or her legal guardian. The offense may be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. It is punishable by a maximum of four years in jail and a maximum $10,000 fine if charged as a felony.
Child abduction is a separate charge from kidnapping, and in some cases, a prosecutor files charges of both kidnapping and child abduction. Separate charges can also be filed in the case of hiding a child from anyone with legal custody or visitation rights, in which case a parent or legal guardian retains a child illegally and thus faces criminal charges.
While our justice system is set up for prosecutors to charge the highest crime possible, it is also true that there are several legal defenses for charges of kidnapping:
- Protecting or trying to protect a child from harm
- Legal restraint (as in the case of authorized citizen’s arrest)
- The person consented to be moved or held
- Shopkeepers privilege (specific laws allowing store employees to restrain a customer suspected of shoplifting for a reasonable amount of time)
- There was only incidental movement of the victim
At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we have the expert knowledge to prepare a compelling, well-organized defense, and we know how to maximize the charges being dropped or reduced to a lesser offense.
For example, Mr. Alan Jackson (a managing partner) recently won a prominent case defending a 23-year-old man charged with sexual assault and torture. After over four months of investigation and trial, the defendant was wholly exonerated and found innocent. In fact, those who pressed charges are now being investigated and criminally charged.
This type of thorough, caring, and detailed defense is our standard at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP. Call us today at (213) 688-0460 for a free consultation.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.