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There are several scenarios where a person could be charged with a kidnapping when, in fact, it was a simple misunderstanding between estranged or divorced parents. One parent takes a child for the weekend and handles getting the child back to the parent with legal custody at the right time.

Yet, things can go wrong such as a flat tire on the car in a rural area and the parent’s cell phone has no charge or reception at the point where the car was stopped. The car also does not have tools for changing the tire. It can get messy very quickly if the police are called to go search for the missing parent and child, with the premise that the child has been kidnapped.

If there is acrimony between the parents, then the parent with custody may go ahead with the charge to deny you visiting rights, or worse. You will need a good defense attorney to help you get out of trouble, and it helps if you have witnesses who stopped to help you change that tire.

California laws are very strict on parental kidnapping and, in this scenario, you may get three, five, or eight years in jail. If you can prove that what you say about what happened is true, then you may not even need to go to court. But you will need an attorney to help you with getting that done.

California laws are very strict on parental kidnapping and, in this scenario, you may get three, five, or eight years in jail

Another scenario is that of a young person who carjacks a vehicle and drives off, then finds there is a young child hiding on the floorboard of the back seat. The situation has just escalated monumentally to aggravated kidnapping. The young person, now considered a criminal, may end up with life in prison under California’s Penal Code 125 PC. If you, as the young person, find yourself in this situation, you need a good defense attorney to help you with reducing the charges.

The following California Penal Codes 207, 208, 209, and 209.5 PC concern the various charges of kidnapping under the following circumstances:

  • whereby a person moves another person under force or makes them fearful enough to comply,
  • victim is threatened with harm to be committed on another family member if the victim does not comply,
  • ties up victim and demands ransom from family or other concerned close persons.

The penalties for kidnapping can be three, five or eight years in state prison, or there may be a lesser penalty of probation, for up to a year in jail. Probation, as defined by the ruling court in the case, may decide another solution, but must give a reason for the lesser penalty.

When the victim was under 14 years old, the penalty can be five, eight, or 11 years, so long as the perpetrator is not a parent or guardian. First-degree murder of a kidnapping victim, means the “felony-murder rule” is applied and may lead to life in prison without parole, or a penalty of death.

Call us if you have been accused of kidnapping! 619-234-2300 or contact us online.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong

Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm, the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, in June 2007. Prior to that, he was employed as the senior associate attorney for a large criminal defense firm in San Diego for nine years, eventually being placed in charge of that firm’s branch office in downtown San Diego. At one point, he was managing six attorneys at that firm, as well as several support staff and law clerks. In 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys. In 2017, he was also selected for the Super Lawyers Top 50 in San Diego list. In 2014, he was selected as a Top Attorney by Los Angeles Magazine. Additionally, Mr. Armstrong was also named as a Top Attorney by the San Diego Business Journal in 2014.

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