Under Pennsylvania law, kidnapping is a crime that has serious consequences as the offense is considered a first degree felony. This means that if you are convicted of kidnapping someone in Pennsylvania, you can face a lengthy jail sentence and significant fines.
To be convicted of kidnapping, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Unlawfully or illegally removed someone a substantial distance from where they are found; or,
- You unlawfully or illegally confined someone for a substantial period in an isolated place.
Typically, a person is unlawfully or illegally removed or confined if the act was carried out by threatening or deceiving the person, or by using force. If the person is incapacitated, unlawful removal is carried out if there is no consent from a parent, guardian, or anyone else responsible for that person. What is considered a substantial distance or a substantial period depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. In addition to the above elements, the Commonwealth must also be able to establish that you had the intent to:
- Hold the person in order to obtain a reward or ransom, or to use them as a hostage or shield;
- Use the person to help you commit any felony offense or flee after commission of a felony offense;
- Injure or terrorize the person or someone else; or
- Interfere with the performance of or actions by public officials.
As mentioned above kidnapping is considered a first degree felony where a conviction can result in up to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
Pennsylvania law also penalizes someone who kidnaps a minor child. You can be found guilty of kidnapping a minor if you unlawfully or illegally remove someone who is younger than eighteen a substantial distance, or confine them for a substantial period, with the same intentions listed above. Again, an unlawful or illegal removal or confinement is accomplished if the act was carried out by use of force, or if you deceived or threatened the person. However, if the person was younger than fourteen, and you did not obtain the consent of a parent, guardian, or other responsible person, the removal or confinement is also considered unlawful or illegal. Kidnapping a minor child is also considered a first degree felony under Pennsylvania law.
Other offenses that are similar to kidnapping, but are considered not as serious include unlawful restraint and false imprisonment. To commit unlawful restraint, you must unlawfully restrain someone under circumstances that expose them to risk of serious injury, or you hold someone in a condition considered an involuntary servitude. Unlawful restraint is a first degree misdemeanor where penalties can include imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $10,000.
False imprisonment occurs if you knowingly and unlawfully restrain someone in a way that substantially interferes with their liberty. False imprisonment is considered a second degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
For either unlawful restraint or false imprisonment, if the victim is a minor under the age of eighteen, the offense is considered a second degree felony. Even if you are the minor victim’s parent, as long as you meet the other elements of either crime, you can still be convicted of a second degree felony. Second degree felonies are punishable by up to ten years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.
Contact an experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney today to help you fight your kidnapping charge!
Because kidnapping is considered a felony offense under Pennsylvania law, if you have been arrested and charged with kidnapping, or any offense related to kidnapping, it is important that you speak and consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney right away. The attorneys at Coover & Scheidemann have successfully helped other people who have faced similar serious kidnapping charges like yours, and they can review the facts and evidence in your case, and help you determine the best strategy for fighting your kidnapping charge.