Kidnapping is an extremely serious criminal offense. When a victim is kidnapped, their family members are often wracked with anxiety and grief. There is no single way to commit a kidnapping, so various criminal charges are associated with the offense. Precisely how you are charged will depend on several factors, including how and why you allegedly kidnapped the victim and whether the victim suffered any harm.
Kidnapping is not something people tend to sympathize with. In fact, many defendants charged with kidnapping are met with intense public backlash long before they are given a trial. If you are charged with kidnapping, you must be very careful in handling your criminal trial. Jurors can be very quick to convict an alleged kidnapper, and they might need a lot of convincing to acquit. There are several ways a kidnapping defendant can defend themselves. Determining which defense works best for your case will require the help of an experienced attorney.
If you are charged with kidnapping, you could be convicted of very high-level charges and sentenced to a lengthy term in state prison. Our New Jersey kidnapping defense attorneys will help you fight your charges, and they will work to get you a fair trial. Call (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free, confidential legal consultation with our team at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych.
Kidnapping Laws in New Jersey
The laws regarding the crime of kidnapping can be found under N.J.S.A. § 2C:13-1. It is important to understand how kidnapping is a different offense than false imprisonment. While both crimes involve holding a person against their will, kidnapping may involve moving the victim to a new location. On the other hand, false imprisonment does not involve moving a victim but keeping them in one location against their will.
Under the law, kidnapping occurs when a person holds someone as a hostage or for a ransom. Kidnapping may be completed by unlawfully removing a person from the location you find them or holding them in one location as a hostage or for a reward. When kidnapping involves movement, the movement must be a substantial distance from the location where the victim is found. Moving a victim from their living room to their basement might not constitute a substantial distance. However, moving them to a different home down the street might be considered a substantial distance.
Kidnapping typically requires the intent of the defendant to use the victim for some criminal purpose or cause the victim harm. A kidnapping may occur for several reasons:
- To further the commission of another crime or escape from a crime.
- To cause bodily harm to or terrorize the victim.
- To interfere with government or political actions or functions.
- To permanently deprive a parent or guardian of custody of the victim.
Criminal Penalties for Kidnapping in New Jersey
The penalties for kidnapping are very severe. It is in your best interests to hire a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to handle kidnapping charges. According to the same statute previously mentioned, kidnapping is often graded as a first-degree crime. A defendant convicted of kidnapping as a first-degree crime may be sentenced to a prison term of at least 15 years and no more than 30.
If the defendant in a kidnapping case released the victim before being stopped by law enforcement, the charges might be downgraded to a second-degree crime. As a second-degree crime, kidnapping may be penalized with a sentence of at least 5 years and no more than 10 years in prison.
Under certain conditions, the crime of kidnapping may be charged as a first-degree crime and come with enhanced penalties beyond those mentioned above. If the alleged victim is 16 or younger and one of the following conditions exists, you may be subjected to enhanced sentencing:
- The victim is sexually assaulted or otherwise sexually victimized during the alleged kidnapping.
- A crime that would constitute child endangerment occurs.
- The defendant allegedly sold or delivered the victim for financial gain (human trafficking).
The enhanced sentencing for these conditions includes a prison term of at least 25 years and up to life. Additionally, convicted defendants must serve at least 25 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole. Contact our New Jersey kidnapping defense attorneys for assistance with your kidnapping case.
Potential Defenses to Kidnapping Charges in New Jersey
Kidnapping cases can be very challenging for the defendant because it can feel as if nobody is on their side. Many defendants feel like they have been convicted before their trial has even begun. Several defenses may help you fight your kidnapping charges in New Jersey. Contact our New Jersey kidnapping defense lawyers for more information.
A key element of any kidnapping case is that the victim was taken against their will. If you can prove that you did indeed have the victim’s consent before moving them, you might be able to effectively fight your charges. In cases of minor children who might not be able to provide consent, you would need to prove you had the consent of their parent or legal guardian.
You might be able to defend yourself against kidnapping charges if the kidnapping resulted from a mistake. A mistake might involve a defendant moving the victim under the false impression that they have consent. In reality, the victim or their parents or guardians might be unwilling to allow the defendant to move the victim. For example, if a young child boards the wrong school bus by mistake, that school bus driver is not guilty of kidnapping the child.
A defendant charged with kidnapping can also assert the defense of necessity. A defendant may argue that they moved the victim against their will to protect them from what they thought was immediate harm. For example, grabbing a neighbor’s child from their front yard and taking them into your home is not kidnaping if you did so to protect the child from a dangerous dog prowling the street outside.
Contact Out New Jersey Kidnapping Defense Lawyers
If you are charged with kidnapping, you need the assistance of a qualified attorney immediately. Our New Jersey kidnapping defense attorneys can help you fight your charges. Set up a free, private legal consultation with us at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Call our offices today at (609) 616-4956.