How Much Jail Time Can You Get for Kidnapping in California?

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The charge of kidnapping is a very serious offense that often leads to jail time after a conviction.

You could also suffer other dire consequences to jail time for kidnapping. Do you know where to turn for help if you find yourself charged with kidnapping?

You would need a strong and experienced lawyer to defend your rights if prosecutors in California charged you with kidnapping.

Engaging an award-winning defense attorney from The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, may give you the edge you need to reduce your exposure to kidnapping jail time.

Contact us today to find out what we can do to help you avoid kidnapping jail time.

How Long Do You Go to Jail for Kidnapping?

Kidnapping in California is a felony charge. According to section 208 of the California Penal Code, you could receive a state prison sentence of three, five, or eight years for such a felony.

The penalties increase to five, eight, or 11 years if the victim of the crime is younger than 14, unless the accused kidnapper is a parent. 

A state prison sentence is not mandatory for a kidnapping conviction. A court has the discretion to put you on probation, provided the term of probation includes serving 12 months in the county jail.

In rare circumstances, a judge can grant probation without sending the defendant to the county jail.

The statute allows this alternative sentencing structure in “unusual cases” but does not define the term “unusual cases.”

Instead, the law says that probation without a jail sentence is permitted if a lesser punishment serves the interests of justice.

Penal Code section 208 requires the judge to specify the reasoning for granting probation without a jail sentence. 

Aggravated Kidnapping

Section 209 of the California Penal Code describes a situation where the kidnapper holds the victim for ransom. Courts refer to his charge as aggravated kidnapping.

If the kidnapping results in the victim’s death or bodily harm, or if the kidnapper confines the victim in a way that exposes them to a substantial likelihood of death—the accused is guilty of a felony carrying life in prison.

The penalty is a life sentence without the possibility for parole.

According to Penal Code section 209, the accused could get parole if the victim did not suffer an injury or die during the ordeal. 

Also, kidnapping someone to commit a robbery or sexual assault is a life felony with the possibility for parole.

Probation is an option for a conviction under Penal Code section 209.

Similarly to a conviction under Penal Code section 208, the probationer must serve 12 months in the county jail as a term of probation unless the court orders otherwise.

How Can You Avoid Kidnapping Jail Time?

The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, provides all of its clients with superior support and advocacy.

Not only have they tried well over 100 cases before juries, news outlets often seek their commentary and analysis on cases of great public importance.

Criminal Defense attorney Kerry L. Armstrong is board-certified as a criminal defense specialist by the State Bar of California.

He was granted this certification based on his in-depth knowledge of criminal law, skill, track record of success, and excellent reputation.

Contact The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, by calling 619-234-2300 to learn more about how they can help you.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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