Kidnapping / False Imprisonment
Kidnapping convictions carry some of the harshest penalties in Florida, including a strong possibility of life in prison. Not only is a falsely accused person at risk of facing the rest of his or her life behind bars, but overzealous prosecutors sometimes file kidnapping charges when another, less serious, charge is more appropriate. Dedicated and experienced legal counsel can help you fight to have the charges reduced or even dismissed.
Fort Lauderdale Kidnapping Defense Lawyer
Florida kidnapping convictions come with harsh penalties, and a successful defense against any kidnapping charge takes someone with extensive knowledge of the numerous factors involved in a kidnapping case. If you have been arrested and charged with kidnapping in Fort Lauderdale, contact Meltzer & Bell immediately.
The Fort Lauderdale kidnapping defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell have years of experience defending clients facing some of the most serious violent crimes. They have worked on both sides of the law in Broward County, and they can use their experience to protect your reputation and your future. Call (954) 765-6585 today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how to fight the accusations.
Information About Florida Kidnapping Charges
Definition of Kidnapping in Florida
Fla. Stat. § 812.133 defines “kidnapping” as forcibly, secretly or by threat confining, abducting or imprisoning another person against her or his will and without lawful authority, with intent to:
- Hold for ransom or reward;
- Hold as a human shield or hostage;
- Commit or facilitate commission of any felony;
- Inflict bodily harm upon or terrorize the victim or any other person; or
- Interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.
If the abduction or confinement lacks the intent to commit any of the above acts, it is considered “false imprisonment” under Fla. Stat. § 787.02. Abduction or confinement of a child under the age of 13 can be considered kidnapping if the abduction or confinement is without the consent of her or his parent or legal guardian.
Penalties for Kidnapping Offenses
Kidnapping is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison, a $10,000 fine or both. The kidnapping of a child under age 13 could be considered a “life felony” in certain situations. Kidnapping is a life felony if a person kidnaps a child under age 13 in the course of committing:
- Aggravated child abuse;
- Sexual battery against the child;
- Lewd or lascivious battery;
- Lewd or lascivious molestation;
- Lewd or lascivious conduct;
- Lewd or lascivious exhibition;
- Child prostitution or exploitation; or
- Human trafficking.
If convicted of kidnapping as a life felony, you face a sentence of up to life in prison, a $15,000 fine or both. The above factors can also transform a false imprisonment charge into a first-degree felony. Otherwise, false imprisonment is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, up to $5,000 in fines or both.
Use of a gun and prior criminal convictions also can increase the prison sentence for a kidnapping conviction.
Defenses to a Kidnapping Charge
Kidnapping is a very serious charge, and it is one that carries some of the harshest possible penalties in Florida. Often, prosecutors will charge a person with kidnapping when a different charge is more appropriate in situations that most people would not consider “kidnapping.”
In these situations, the best defense is that the confinement was merely due to the commission of another felony, and that another, less serious felony charge is more appropriate. Constraints on a person that are an inherent part of another felony should not result in a conviction for kidnapping, such as ordering a person to sit in a particular spot during a robbery.
The Florida Supreme Court has stated that to convict a person of kidnapping, the constraints on the victim:
- Must not be slight, inconsequential and merely incidental to the other crime;
- Must not be of the kind inherent in the nature of the other crime; and
- Must have some significance independent of the other crime in that it makes the other crime substantially easier to commit or substantially lessens the risk of detection.
If the only constraint involved is the sort that, though not necessary to the underlying felony, is likely to naturally accompany it, this should not result in a kidnapping conviction. However, this defense is not available to those accused of kidnapping a person for any reason other than to commit or facilitate commission of a felony.
If a kidnapping charge is based upon another criteria, such as kidnapping a person for ransom or to hold as a hostage, this defense can not be used. According to the Florida Supreme Court, it is possible to be convicted of kidnapping based on intent to terrorize and also of robbery based on confinement that is inherent to both crimes.
This defense will not defeat a charge of “false imprisonment.” For example, in a situation where a robber followed two people into their motel room, forced them at gunpoint to lie on the bed and then ordered them into the bathroom while he searched the room; the person was convicted of both “robbery” and “false imprisonment.”
Finding the Best Kidnapping Attorney in Broward County
If you have been arrested and charged with kidnapping anywhere in Broward County, it is best to contact an experienced kidnapping defense attorney as soon as possible after being arrested. Contact Meltzer & Bell at (954) 765-6585 to learn more about how you can build a defense against the charges. Meltzer & Bell represents clients throughout Broward County, including those in Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Davie, Plantation, Sunrise and the surrounding areas.