Kidnapping is a terrifying charge. It evokes images of villains conspiring to take people and torture them for ransom money.
Scenarios like that do, of course, exist, but legally, the word “kidnapping” can be applied to many situations. A divorcee could take their kids across state lines to a theme park, only to return and find that they’ve been accused of kidnapping their own children.
The term, by itself, could follow you for life and create untold damage. Any landlord or potential employer who sees this charge on your record will make some heavy assumptions about you. Housing and work could become a problem for a long time to come.
If you’ve been accused of this crime, here are some possible defenses you can use in court.
The Person Agreed to Go with You
Kidnapping inherently assumes that someone was taken against their will. If, therefore, someone went willingly went off with you, then they weren’t kidnapped.
This person may change their mind later. If they do, and you let them go (from your house/car/etc.), then you did not kidnap them.
You Were Honest About Your Intentions
If Person A willingly goes with Person B, but Person B lied about the destination, activity, and so on, this could be an example of kidnapping.
If, however, you told someone of your destination and intentions up front, and they happily join you, this is not an example of kidnapping.
You Are Innocent
As with any criminal charge, the best way out is to simply prove that you didn’t commit the crime. Kidnapping generally involves some kind of force or deceit. As we described above, without these elements, the alleged victim was not kidnapped.
Distance plays a role in a kidnapping charge as well. If you transported someone just a short way, you may not be technically guilty of kidnapping.
Moreover, the prosecution’s evidence may simply not support their claim. They may have confused you for someone else. There may be a paper trail that provides an alibi. Witnesses can help corroborate your innocence.
You Were Forced to Do It
Sometimes, people accidentally fall into an unscrupulous group. These days, many criminals use others to commit their crimes, keeping themselves “clean.”
Whenever someone threatens you or your family and forces you to commit a crime, you are operating under “duress.” A duress claim is a legitimate defense in a criminal trial, and if you work with the authorities, they may be able to protect you from your abusers.
The Police Used Improper Methods
Even when a suspect is guilty, a court could throw out the case if the police did not follow the rules. Make sure you tell your lawyer all the details of your arrest. They may be able to find evidence of improper police procedure.
- Unnecessary force.
- Ignoring Miranda rights.
- Forcing a confession from a suspect.
- Going outside the limits of a search warrant.