CA Penal Code 207

Kidnapping

What is Kidnapping in California?

Simple” kidnapping, CA Penal Code 207[1], can be defined as when you move another person without that person’s consent with the use of force or fear.

Aggravated” kidnapping, the more serious of the two levels of kidnapping in California, can be summarized as when you move another person without that person’s consent with the use of force, fear, or fraud and:

  • The victim is under 14 years of age
  • The victim is held for ransom
  • You inflict great bodily injury on the victim or the victim dies
  • The victim is taken during a carjacking

California handles kidnapping cases very seriously and because of the state’s strict stance the punishments are harsh. Both levels of kidnapping, simple and aggravated, are felonies. If convicted of simple kidnapping you will face:

  • Up to eight years in state prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

If convicted of aggravated kidnapping you will face:

  • Up to eleven years in state prison
  • A possible strike on your record in accordance to California Three Strikes law
  • If you kidnapped the victim for ransom, a reward, to commit extortion, sex crimes, or robbery then you will face life in prison with the possibility of parole.
  • If you kidnapped the victim and the victim died or sustained great bodily injury, or you placed the victim in a situation where death was likely to occur then you will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecuting Kidnapping Charges

Because of the public attention that kidnapping cases receive it is not uncommon for the prosecutor to take them to a jury trial. The public likes to see this types of cases resolved quickly and for the perpetrator to go to prison for a long time. With this being said, if the prosecution believes that they have a shot at a conviction by jury trial then they will likely take the case to court.

In order for the prosecution to prove that you are guilty of simple kidnapping they have to prove the elements of the crime:

  • Willfully moved another person
  • You performed that act without that person’s consent
  • You did so with the use of force or fear

If the prosecutor cannot prove these three elements of the crime then you will not be convicted.

In order to be convicted of aggravated kidnapping the prosecution must prove the elements mentioned above, including:

  • You performed the action with the use of force, fear, or fraud, and,
  • The victim was under 14 years of age
  • The victim was held for ransom
  • You inflicted great bodily injury on the victim or the victim dies
  • The victim was taken during a carjacking

If the prosecutor cannot prove the additional elements of aggravated kidnapping then you will not be convicted.

The first element of the crime is that you willfully moved another person. California defines willfully as deliberately or on purpose. The first element of the crime also states that you moved another person, it is interesting however how there is not a specific distance required to define that you “moved” someone. A sufficient distance is measured from crime to crime and is determined by the judge and jury. The deciding factors are:

  • The actual distance moved
  • Whether the movement increased the risk to harm to the alleged victim
  • Whether the movement decreased the likelihood of you being caught

It then becomes the job of the prosecutor to prove that you moved the victim a far enough distance to satisfy the determining factors. If the prosecutor cannot prove that you moved the victim then you will not be convicted of CA Penal Code 207.

The second element of the crime states that you moved the victim without the victim’s consent. This means that victim did not agree to going with you, and that there was some sort of protest or fight not to go with you.

The third element of the crime is that you used performed the act with force or fear. Force can pertain to many actions including, but not limited to:

  • Restraining the victim
  • Dragging the victim
  • Beating the victim

Fear can also pertain to many actions including, but not limited to:

  • Making demands with the use of a dangerous weapon
  • Making threats about physical abuse
  • Making threats to harm the victim’s family

If the prosecutor can prove all of these elements within a reasonable doubt then you will be convicted for simple kidnapping and forced to suffer the consequences of the crimes.

If the prosecutor is trying the crime as aggravated assault then the prosecutor might have to prove that you used fraud to move the victim. Fraud is defined as the use of deliberate deception in order to secure personal gain. If the prosecutor can prove that you performed the action for your own personal gain then you will face the penalty enhancements mentioned above.

Defending Kidnapping Charges

There are several common strategies that a skilled defense attorney will explore their client is facing a kidnapping charge. The first approach is to investigate whether or not the victim gave consent to be moved. If somebody gave you consent to move them and you did not go beyond the means of that consent then you will not be convicted of kidnapping. In order to be convicted of kidnapping you needed to have moved a person against their will; however, if you have their consent to move them then you are not guilty of kidnapping. If however, you move that person beyond where they wanted to be moved then it becomes a crime.

If your skilled criminal defense attorney can prove that you did not move the victim a substantial distance then you will not be convicted for kidnapping. As stated in the elements of the crime, the victim has to be moved, but if the victim is moved a trivial distance then it doesn’t constitute as a substantial distance. If the victim was moved a short distance, but that short distance increased the likelihood that the victim would sustain harm then a short distance might suffice, it is completely determined by the judge and the jury. But it is your attorney’s job to convince the jury that the short distance that you moved the victim did not increase the likelihood that he/she would sustain injury.

It is not uncommon for kidnapping charges to be filed between the divorced parents of a child. If you are the parent of a child and have lawful custody of your child then it is not illegal to take your child on a trip, or wherever you feel safe. However, if you took your child on a trip when you do not have legal custody of your child then you can be convicted of kidnapping.

It is important to note that you cannot be convicted of kidnapping if you take a child or adult in order to protect them from imminent danger. California protects you from being prosecuted under the state’s kidnapping laws if you reasonably believe that someone is in danger and the only way to protect that person is to move them.

You will also not be prosecuted for kidnapping if you place someone under citizen’s arrest. The only time you can legally place a person under citizen’s arrest is when you know, have reasonable cause to believe, or witness a person commit a felony.

We Want to Help

If you or a loved one is being charged with Kidnapping, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and we will get in contact with you ASAP. We can provide a free consultation in our office, or by phone. Our experienced and assiduous attorneys will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely.

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References

[1] Every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, steals or takes, or holds, detains, or arrests any person in this state, and carries the person into another country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping.
(b) Every person, who for the purpose of committing any act defined in Section 288, hires, persuades, entices, decoys, or seduces by false promises, misrepresentations, or the like, any child under the age of 14 years to go out of this country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping.



(c) Every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, takes or holds, detains, or arrests any person, with a design to take the person out of this state, without having established a claim, according to the laws of the United States, or of this state, or who hires, persuades, entices, decoys, or seduces by false promises, misrepresentations, or the like, any person to go out of this state, or to be taken or removed therefrom, for the purpose and with the intent to sell that person into slavery or involuntary servitude, or otherwise to employ that person for his or her own use, or to the use of another, without the free will and consent of that persuaded person, is guilty of kidnapping.



(d) Every person who, being out of this state, abducts or takes by force or fraud any person contrary to the law of the place where that act is committed, and brings, sends, or conveys that person within the limits of this state, and is afterwards found within the limits thereof, is guilty of kidnapping.



(e) For purposes of those types of kidnapping requiring force, the amount of force required to kidnap an unresisting infant or child is the amount of physical force required to take and carry the child away a substantial distance for an illegal purpose or with an illegal intent.



(f) Subdivisions (a) to (d), inclusive, do not apply to any of the following: (1) To any person who steals, takes, entices away, detains, conceals, or harbors any child under the age of 14 years, if that act is taken to protect the child from danger of imminent harm. (2) To any person acting under Section 834 or 837.

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