Kidnapping as a Federal vs. State Crime

In 1998, a woman disguised as a nurse entered a hospital room and kidnapped a newborn baby from the mother. That woman then raised the girl as her own for 18 years, at which point the child realized that her birth certificate had been forged when she applied for a job. The woman who admitted to kidnapping her from her birth parents plead guilty, according to Oxygen, and faces up to 22 years for kidnapping and five years for interfering with custody, despite the kidnapped child saying that, “I am certain that she’s going to get time, but I’m hoping not very, very long. I think they should be lenient. She took care of me very well.” While the child has accepted her apology, the girl’s birth parents have not. “It’s been harder for my [biological] mother to cope,” said her daughter.

Kidnapping Tried at the State Level

Kidnapping is a serious federal and state crime. Under Florida statute 787.01, kidnapping is a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. Kidnapping is defined as using force or threat, or secretly, confining, imprisoning, or abducting a child under the age of 13 with the intent of:

  • Committing or facilitating the commission of any felony;
  • Holding the child for ransom, using them as a shield, or using them as a hostage;
  • Terrorizing the victim or another person or to inflict bodily harm on the victim; or
  • Interfering with a governmental or political function.

Moreover, during the commission of the kidnapping, if the defendant commits any of the following, they will be facing a life felony:

  • Sexual battery;
  • Lewd or lascivious molestation, battery, conduct, or exhibition;
  • Forcing or coercing the child into prostitution;
  • Exploiting the child or allowing the child to be exploited; or
  • Human trafficking violation.

When Kidnapping is a Federal Crime

Kidnapping becomes a federal crime when the perpetrator takes the child across state lines, out of the country, or when a ransom message is delivered through an interstate communication method. This includes the U.S. mail system, email, or by telephone. Kidnapping, when tried as a federal crime, carries a serious penalty, which depends on the circumstances of the kidnapping, according to the Office of the United States Attorneys. For example, international kidnapping of a child under 16 by a parent is tried differently than if the defendant was not related to the child. It is important for your attorney to have experience in both state and federal trials if you have been charged with any form of kidnapping.

Call the Law Offices of an Experienced West Palm Beach Attorney

Whether you have been charged with a federal or state crime, a kidnapping charge is an extremely serious matter. You need to contact the most experienced attorney available, and one that will take the time to make sure that your defense is as strong as possible. The  West Palm Beach attorneys of the Skier Law Firm are here to help you in this time of need, and will do everything in their power to beat these charges or have the sentencing dramatically reduced.

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