Crimes of Kidnapping

Many people think of the abduction of a child or holding a person for ransom when they think of the term “kidnapping.” Florida’s kidnapping statute is worded more broadly. Section 787.01 of the Florida Statutes imposes serious criminal penalties for kidnapping another person.

The term “kidnapping” is defined under Florida’s statute as using force, a threat of force, or acting secretly to imprison, abduct or confine another person against his or her will.

The crime includes any detention of a person under circumstances that are more than “merely incidental” to committing another felony, including when it “substantially lessens” the risk of being detected or makes another felony “substantially easier” to commit.

Under Florida law, kidnapping is a first degree felony punishable by life in Florida State prison. Most kidnapping offenses occur between people who know each other well, often during an alleged act of domestic violence.

Attorneys for Kidnapping Crimes in Tampa, FL

The criminal defense attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent both men and women charged with the serious violent crime of kidnapping.

We fight criminal charges throughout the greater Tampa Bay area, including Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, Clearwater and St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, and New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, FL.

We also represent clients on related charges for false imprisonment or domestic violence offenses.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.

Penalties for Kidnapping in Florida

The crime of kidnapping under Florida Statute Section 787.01 is charged as a first-degree felony punishable by a statutory maximum penalty of life in prison and a $10,000 fine. The offense has a Level 9 severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code.

Unless grounds for downward departure are found, the Court must impose a minimum mandatory of four (4) years in prison but can impose any sentence up to the statutory maximum.

Florida Statute Section 787.01(3)(a), the penalties are enhanced to a life felony if the victim is a child under the age of 13 and in the course of committing the offense, commits one or more of the following:

Under Florida Statute Section 787.01(3)(b), the court is permitted to impose separate judgments and sentences for the life felony for each separate offense enumerated in the statute.

The most serious form of kidnapping might include “ARMED KIDNAPPING COMMIT FELONY ON CHILD (KIDN2012).”

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The First 21 Days After an Arrest for Kidnapping in Florida

After an arrest for the serious felony offense of Kidnapping in Florida, the charges will be turned over to the State Attorney’s Office. A prosecutor in the intake division should review the police reports, talk to the investigating officer, and speak with witnesses and the alleged victim.

The prosecutor often does not have time to thoroughly investigate before filing charges. By retaining a criminal defense attorney immediately after the arrest, your attorney can represent you at an emergency bond hearing and on a pre-file basis.

Your attorney can meet with the prosecutor and provide them with information about the bias of the alleged victim or other witnesses, show them physical evidence such as surveillance tapes that contradict the allegations, or present other exculpatory or mitigating evidence.

In many cases, during the first 21 days after the arrest, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office might determine that insufficient evidence existed to support the crime of “kidnapping.” The prosecutor may file only lesser charges for false imprisonment, battery, assault, or domestic battery.

Hiring an attorney early in the case allows all favorable evidence to be preserved, giving you the best chance to avoid any formal charges being filed for the serious felony offense of kidnapping another person.

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Insufficient Evidence to Charge the Crime of Kidnapping

The confinement, imprisonment, or abduction must be more than merely inconsequential or slight. If the kidnapping allegedly occurred while another felony was being committed, then the holding of the other person must not have been merely incidental to the felony. Holding a person in a way that is inherent in the nature of the felony does not qualify as kidnapping.

Instead, the holding must have some significance independent of the felony because it makes the felony “substantially easier” to commit or because it “substantially lessens” the risk of being detected.

Under Florida law, the kidnapping statute requires that when the defendant unlawfully confined, abducted, or imprisoned the victim, the defendant did so intending to commit another offense other than kidnapping. Otherwise, a literal construction of the kidnapping statute could convert almost any forcible felony into a kidnapping.

To avoid this result, the Florida Supreme Court has adopted a three-prong test to determine whether movement or confinement during the commission of another felony is sufficient to justify an additional charge for kidnapping. To support a kidnapping conviction, the kidnapping must not have been merely incidental to the other offense.

Instead, the necessary movement or confinement occurring within the context of the other felony must:

  • not be slight, inconsequential, and merely incidental to the other crime;
  • not be of the kind inherent in the nature of the other crime; and
  • 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.

See Faison v. State, 426 So. 2d 963 (Fla. 1983). The Faison test does not apply when the kidnapping charge alleges any other specific intentions identified in the statute, such as false imprisonment and abducting another with the intent to terrorize the victim.

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Elements of Kidnapping under Florida Statute Section 787.01

Under Florida law, the prosecutor must prove the following three elements beyond all reasonable doubt:

  • First, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office must prove at trial that the defendant used force, a threat of force, or acted secretly to imprison, abduct, or confine another person against his or her will.
  • Second, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office must prove at trial that the defendant had no lawful authority to confine, imprison, or abduct the other person.
  • Third, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office must prove at trial that the defendant acted intending to do one of the following:
    • inflicting bodily harm upon the other person;
    • terrorizing the other person;
    • interfering with the performance of any political or governmental function;
    • holding the other person for reward or ransom;
    • hold the other person as a hostage or shield; or
    • holding the other person to facilitate or commit another felony which must be specified.

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Enhanced Penalties for Kidnapping a Child Under the Age of 13 Years Old

Certain enhanced penalties apply if a child under the age of thirteen (13) years old was abducted, imprisoned, or confined. It is a defense to the criminal charge of kidnapping a child under the age of thirteen (13) if the confinement was with the permission of the child’s legal guardian or parent.

Any allegation that a person committed the offense of kidnapping a child under the age of 13 years old is subjected to enhanced penalties if the offense involves the commission of any of the following serious felony crimes:

  1. Allowing a child to be exploited in violation of Florida Statute Section 450.151.
  2. A violation of Section 796.03 or 796.04 related to prostitution upon a child;
  3. Aggravated child abuse, as defined in Florida Statute Section 827.03;
  4. Sexual battery, as defined in chapter 794, against the child; or
  5. Lewd or lascivious battery, lewd or lascivious molestation, lewd or lascivious conduct, or lewd or lascivious exhibition, in violation of Section 800.04 or 847.0135(5).

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Florida Law Provides for Lesser Included Offenses of Kidnapping

Kidnapping under § 787.01, Fla. Stat. is a first-degree felony punishable by life imprisonment and requires proof of at least one of the four aggravating circumstances of intent or purpose.

The kidnapping statute encompasses more felonious conduct than less serious charges, including the following:

  • false imprisonment in sections 787.02 is a third-degree felony;
  • interference with custody in 787.03 a first-degree misdemeanor; and
  • removal of a child from state contrary to any court order in 787.04 is a third-degree felony;
  • attempted kidnapping, a second degree felony;
  • aggravated assault, a third degree felony;
  • battery, a first-degree misdemeanor; or
  • assault, a second-degree misdemeanor.

False imprisonment under section 787.02 does not necessarily interfere with the performance of a governmental function.

Interference with custody (section 787.03) or removal from the state (section 787.04) is not necessarily forcible, secret, by threat, or against the child’s will.

Not all cases involving a person who interferes with a state agency’s custody of a child or removes a child from the state contrary to a state agency or court order should be charged as kidnapping.

But when it is alleged that the defendant committed violent acts toward the child, orchestrated an effort to mislead the child’s parents or DCF officials, or interfered with DCF’s duties, then the kidnapping statute in section 787.01 is implemented.

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Finding an Attorney for a Kidnapping Charge in Tampa, FL

If you have been arrested or accused of kidnapping another person in Tampa or Hillsborough County, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We aggressively fight to protect our clients against these serious charges.

We also represent clients against serious violent crimes such as false imprisonment and kidnapping in Dade City or New Port Richey in Pasco County, Clearwater or St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, or Brooksville in Hernando County, Florida.

Call us at (813) 250-0500 to discuss your case and possible defenses to fight the charges.

This article was last updated on Monday, May 20, 2024.