Fort Lauderdale Kidnapping Attorney
Despite its name, the Florida crime of kidnapping does not have to involve a child or youth. The crime of kidnapping under Florida Statute 787.01 occurs when a person holds another person against their will through force or threat and with intent to either use the person held for ransom or as a shield, commit a felony, inflict bodily harm or terrorize the person held or another person, or to interfere with a governmental or political function. In short, it’s a two-part crime, requiring the holding of a person and the intent to achieve one of the listed goals.
Kidnapping is generally a first-degree felony, but if the victim is a child under the age of 13 and certain additional acts, like aggravated child abuse, occurred, it becomes a felony punishable by life in prison. Additionally, kidnapping is one of the enumerated under Florida’s 10/20/Life law, so if a weapon was in a kidnapping of any kind, those mandatory minimums will apply.
There are defenses to kidnapping regarding the nature of the confinement when the kidnapping charges are based on an intent to commit a felony. The Florida Supreme Court, in Faison v. State, has established a three-part test to determine whether a confinement is sufficient to serve as the basis for a kidnapping charge. First, the confinement cannot be “slight, inconsequential, or incidental to” the felony being committed. Second, the confinement can’t be one that is “inherent in the nature of” the felony. Third, the confinement must have some significance independent of the felony; though it is enough that the confinement makes the commission of the felony “substantially easier of commission or substantially lessens the risk of detection.”
Kidnapping can be a difficult offense for Broward County prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes, they will instead bring the related charge of false imprisonment. In Florida, false imprisonment is considered a lesser included offense of kidnapping. A lesser included offense means that everything the prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt for a false imprisonment charge must also be proven for a kidnapping charge, but with additional elements.
The positive aspect for defendants is that they cannot be charged with both the lesser and the greater offense for the same conduct. The bad news is that the court can instruct the jury in a kidnapping case that even if they find the defendant not guilty of kidnapping, they can find the defendant guilty of the lesser included offense of false imprisonment.
The Florida crime of false imprisonment is defined by Florida Statute 787.02 as “forcibly, by threat, or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning, or restraining another person without lawful authority and against her or his will.” Similar to kidnapping, the potential penalty is increased when a child under 13 is the victim. Additionally, 10-20-Life rules also apply to false imprisonment.
Defending Your Case
If you’ve been charged with or are being investigated for kidnapping or false imprisonment, contact Fort Lauderdale kidnapping attorney Mark S. Lowry to avoid making any missteps. He will aggressively advocate on your behalf to protect your rights in court.