Federal Crime of Kidnapping – 18 U.S.C. § 1201
Kidnapping charges are very serious and can result in a term of years or up to a life term in prison if a death results from the crime. Even an attempted kidnapping may result in up to 20 years in prison. There are not that many cases where the federal government actually picks up a kidnapping case.
Where you're likely to see federal jurisdiction relates to some sort of a conspiracy or RICO violation where gang members are kidnapping people as part of their RICO activities, and that's where I've seen kidnapping charges filed.
Also, another issue that comes up is what gives the feds jurisdiction related to a kidnapping charge, and really what it has to do is with people crossing state lines and taking other people from one state to another, or even taking them to a different country. This might cause the feds to get involved because the states are really not equipped for this type of investigation and this type of prosecution.
There are special rules where if children are involved, I've seen the federal government get involved – especially if it's for purposes of sex trafficking, kidnapping, either bringing children into the United States or taking them out of the United States.
This would certainly trigger a federal investigation and kidnapping charges and begin because of the different states and the complexity of trying to figure out where someone's going to be prosecuted, how they're going to be prosecuted, how witnesses are going to be obtained in a kidnapping case – that could trigger the feds to become involved and deal with a kidnapping situation.
Another scenario where I see kidnapping charges filed is when parents are having an argument or custody battle over children and one parent takes a child out of the state or out of the country in violation of a court order like in a divorce proceeding or even a criminal proceeding, it's possible the feds could get involved at that point as well.
Our federal criminal attorneys have knowledge on kidnapping laws and we can definitely assist you if you are facing kidnapping charges.
What is Kidnapping Under 18 U.S.C. § 1201?
Federal Kidnapping is defined as a taking of a person against his or her will or confining a person to a restricted place against his or her will. Kidnapping is a federal crime when the person kidnapped is transported in interstate or foreign commerce, the person is a public or foreign official, or the person is an internationally protected person. Federal law also punishes any person who requests or is given ransom money in connection to a kidnapping.
When Will a Kidnapping Charge be Federal Versus State-Prosecuted?
Typically, most kidnapping charges are filed at the state level and the state authorities deal with it because it just makes sense for them, and the feds aren't really equipped policy-wise to deal with kidnapping cases. So, most times you will see the state government take a case.
If it involves minors or any type of sexual purposes and there's multiple victims involved, that could trigger the federal government to become involved. Again, I've also seen federal government where people are either traveling to another country to have sex with a minor and the feds find about it – either through some social medial account or otherwise – then the feds can become involved and prosecute the case.
Again, for purposes of getting witnesses in other countries, witnesses in other states – it just makes more sense and it's easier for the feds to become involved and deal with that type of a kidnapping case. Any time you're talking about foreign victims or United State's citizens being moved to another country for sex purposes, kidnapping purposes, then obviously the feds will get involved and they will prosecute them. They will bring the full weight of the federal government to bear on any type of a kidnapping case in reference to that.
Legal Defenses to Kidnapping Cases in Federal Court
One defense would certainly be consent – that the person was an adult and they consented to go to whatever location they're being taken to. It's going to be very difficult for a child to consent to one parent taking them if the other parent has a valid court order saying they cannot be taken to a different location, cannot be moved.
This could obviously be used by the prosecutors in order to prosecute somebody for a kidnapping charge. Insanity is another defense that I've seen used under the right circumstances in order to defend a kidnapping case at the federal level.
The bottom line is, the defense is going to be dictated by the facts of the case and the circumstances surrounding it and that's when you need to get in and sit down with an attorney who has been doing it for a long time, has the experience, knowledge and success rate to be able to get you the best resolution – make the right decisions on your behalf so that you end up hopefully staying custody-free and try to preserve your rights and your record.
The federal government generally won't get involved with kidnapping cases unless other crimes related to the kidnapping occurred. For example, if a RICO case involves kidnapping, then the federal government would step in. As soon as a crime occurs across state lines, the federal government has jurisdiction over the case. The federal government is better equipped to deal with interstate and international crimes because state governments only have authority within one particular state.
Due to the life altering consequences of a kidnapping charge and conviction, it is very important that you contact our law firm as we have the drive and passion to get our clients the best possible results.
Our experience, skills, and legal strategy qualify us to be your attorney! We are well equipped and well verse in federal law. Contact us to learn how we can help you.