Kidnapping is defined as the unlawful removal of a person from one location to another or the detention of a person in a controlled environment under federal and state law. Some abduction laws stipulate that the kidnapping or detention is carried out with criminal intent, like extortion or the aiding and abetting of another crime. In some cases, a parent who does not have lawful custodial rights may be prosecuted with kidnapping if they take their child.
Federal vs. State laws
The majority of abduction cases are handled at the state level. If the kidnapping transcends state boundaries, federal authorities will usually become involved and bring federal charges. Kidnapping is a severe felony under federal law, punishable by a term of 20 years or more in prison, depending on past convictions and circumstances. International parental kidnapping is prosecuted under a separate code in the United States, with a maximum punishment of three years in jail if convicted.
AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) is an emergency response system that uses the media and other broadcasting means (such as text messaging) to warn the public about supposedly missing people in all 50 states. While the system may be used to share information on adults, it is most commonly used to locate missing children. AMBER Alerts will pause regular broadcasting on TV, radios, and the Internet with the kid’s particular identifying information whenever law enforcement believes that a child has been abducted.
Depending on whether the state’s abduction laws were allegedly broken, there are a variety of viable legal defenses to the crime of kidnapping. The following defenses may be available to a defendant in general:
- The victim gave her permission to be relocated or accompanied by the defendant.
- Intention to employ lethal force was not present;
- Mistakes, ignorance, and a lack of knowledge
- The defendant is the victim’s relative.
- Insanity, mental illness, or a flaw are all examples of insanity.
In cases of parental kidnapping – yes, a parent may be accused of kidnapping their child – police departments are frequently the best option. Parents can also engage a private investigator of their choosing. State laws on kidnapping may apply to parental child abduction. To overcome jurisdictional problems in child custody proceedings, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act was enacted in 1980. The PKPA encourages governments to work together to ensure the safe return of children who have been kidnapped.
Because the PKPA is a federal statute, it takes precedence over state law where there is a dispute. The Act instructs state courts to uphold the child custody determination made by the child’s home state/tribal court, whether it is still ongoing or has already been made. “Preferred jurisdiction” belongs to the court in the home state.
Hire a Criminal Défense Lawyer
Kidnapping is covered by both state and federal statutes, each with its own set of factors that a prosecutor must establish beyond a reasonable doubt. A jury of your peers will decide whether or not you will be convicted of this offense. If you’ve been accused of abduction, it’s in your best interests to contact a local criminal defense attorney who can assist you in presenting your case using the most compelling evidence available.