The legal definition of kidnapping in New York is broader than most people realize and a conviction for kidnapping can result in severe consequences. In the most serious cases, a felony conviction for kidnapping can lead to a maximum of life imprisonment.

When people think of kidnapping, they may picture a victim being violently restrained, thrown into a vehicle, taken away to an unknown location, and held for ransom. While that would certainly constitute kidnapping, you can be charged with this serious offense in a number of other circumstances that may not look or sound like what is portrayed in the movies or on TV.

Kidnapping Defined

There are two separate state kidnapping charges you can face in New York: kidnapping in the second degree (New York Penal Law §135.20), which is a class B violent felony, and kidnapping in the first degree (New York Penal Law §135.25), which is a class A-1 felony. Additionally, you can be charged with a separate federal criminal kidnapping offense under certain circumstances.

All kidnapping offenses involve the abduction of another person against his or her will and confinement without consent. Within that simple definition are specific key words that help determine whether the offense of kidnapping has been committed.

  • “Abduction” involves restraining the person with the intent to prevent his or her liberation, either by holding the victim in a location where he or she is unlikely to be found or by using or threatening the use of deadly physical force.
  • In turn, “restraining” for purposes of kidnapping charges is “to restrict a person’s movements intentionally and unlawfully in such manner as to interfere substantially with his liberty by moving him from one place to another, or by confining him either in the place where the restriction commences or in a place to which he has been moved, without consent and with knowledge that the restriction is unlawful.”
  • A person is confined “without consent" if he or she is moved or confined by:
    • physical force, intimidation or deception, or
    • any means whatsoever, including acquiescence of the victim, if he is a child less than sixteen years old or an incompetent person and the parent, guardian or other person or institution having lawful control or custody of him has not acquiesced in the movement or confinement.

Second-degree kidnapping in New York involves “abducting” another person under the definitions described above. A charge and conviction for kidnapping in the first degree, however, involves the presence of additional circumstances.

Specifically: a person is guilty of kidnapping in the first degree when he abducts another person and when:

  • The intent is to compel a third person to pay a ransom or to engage in or not engage in certain conduct, or;
  • He restrains the person abducted for a period of more than 12 hours with intent to:
    • inflict physical injury upon him or violate or abuse him sexually; or
    • accomplish or advance the commission of a felony; or
    • terrorize him or a third person; or
    • interfere with the victim’s performance of a governmental or political function, or;
  • The person abducted dies during the abduction or before he is able to return or to be returned to safety.

Kidnapping Penalties

The penalties for a New York kidnapping conviction are severe. If you are convicted of kidnapping in the second degree, you face up to 25 years in prison plus significant fines. A conviction for kidnapping in the first degree can potentially lead to life behind bars.

Given the life-altering consequences of a kidnapping conviction, it is imperative that you retain an experienced New York kidnapping defense attorney as soon as possible after you have been charged. Please call us (718) 852-6763 to speak with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys now.

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