Many people think about “kidnapping” the way it’s portrayed in the movies. A bandit has a gun, ties someone up, and holds the victim for ransom. That over-the-top scenario is rarely what happens. In reality, just transporting someone from one place to another without the person’s consent could lead to kidnapping charges. If convicted of a kidnapping charge, you could be looking at a long prison sentence. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced Houston kidnapping attorney if you are accused of a crime. Attorney In-Chul Sohn will aggressively defend people accused of kidnapping.
What Is Kidnapping?
Texas takes a straightforward approach to defining kidnapping. It considers “intentionally or knowingly abducting another person” along with allegations such as restraining a person from leaving, preventing the person’s liberation, holding the person captive, or threatening violence, to rise to the level of felony charges. While Texas has clear laws, the threshold can be quite low and seemingly minor incidents involving travel and anger could lead to criminal charges.
Laws and Penalties
The state imposes harsh penalties in kidnapping convictions and a person may be charged with differing degrees of the crime. For practical purposes the distinction between kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping may be the most important.
Ordinary kidnapping is generally a third-degree felony and may be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. On the other hand, aggravated kidnapping is a first-degree felony and carries a sentence of 99 years to life and a $10,000 fine. Coupled with abduction, a charge rises to the aggravated level if the intent includes:
- Holding someone for ransom
- Holding someone hostage or as a human shield
- Using people in the commission of a felony
- Harming people physically, sexually or terrorizing
- Possession of a deadly weapon
Aggravated kidnapping may be reduced to a second-degree felony if the victim was willingly released. A second-degree conviction holds a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Defending Kidnapping Charges
If you are charged with any type of kidnapping, your life is literally on the line. The severe penalties could leave you behind bars for the remainder of your life. That’s why it’s imperative that you work with a tough and experienced Houston kidnapping attorney to present a strong defense. It may be possible to argue that no criminal intent existed or no deadly force was threatened. There are also lawful examples of taking custody of a family member.
At the end of the day, the state must prove its claim beyond a reasonable doubt. If you have been charged with kidnapping, contact the Attorney In-Chul Sohn today.