California Kidnapping Laws
In the state of California, kidnapping is defined as an act of moving a victim on a substantial distance against his will manipulating by fear and force. In order to establish the elements of kidnapping that the Californian state laws define, a prosecuting attorney should demonstrate whether an accused person has used force to take and move a victim. Alternatively, a defendant can convince his victim to move, because of fear and intimidation. The victim may not voluntarily agree to move. Moreover, the prosecutor’s duty is to prove that the accused person has moved a victim for a significant distance. Asportation is considered to be a legal term for the move. A prosecutor can determine substantial distance for a felony of kidnapping by analyzing the factual distance moved. Moreover, the prosecuting attorney should provide testimony concerning the decision of an accused individual to move a victim from a public place to an isolated one. Additionally, the prosecuting attorney should demonstrate that a defendant has moved his victim from one place to another, in order to ease the commission of felony and avoid being caught. Juridical adjudication by Californian court presents different opinions on circumstances and distances that meet the asportation requirements for kidnapping indictment.
The Californian Penal Code 207-210 reflects the criminal act of kidnapping, as well as punishment for the crime (“Penal Code Section 207-210”, n.d.). Since kidnapping is considered to be a harsh offense, the punishment can be up to life imprisonment in jail without the possibility of parole. This penalty applies to individuals who are condemned of capturing, confining, enticing, abducting, hiding or carrying an individual away by any means with the intention to hold or for ransom. When the prosecuting attorney establishes the elements of kidnapping, he has to make a choice between aggravated kidnapping and simple kidnapping. Both forms of kidnapping contain the main elements of the criminal act. Aggravated kidnapping needs testimony that an indicted person engaged in kidnapping, pursuing to commit another felony. For instance, somebody may abduct a victim, aiming to commit rape, robbery, or extortion. To establish aggravated kidnapping, the public prosecutor has to demonstrate that the accused person intended to commit his main felony, while moving the victim. Following the kidnapping laws in California State, the penalties for aggravated kidnapping are harsher comparing with the penalties for an ordinary kidnapping.
According to California Penal Code 207, an individual is found guilty of kidnapping when he/ she forcibly or by other means, holds or takes that person out of California State with the purpose to sell him/ her into forced labor or slavery. In addition, a person can be found guilty if he/ she employs a victim for his/ her own use or use by other individual without free will of that persuaded person. An individual who, being out of California State, takes by force and deception and abducts a victim within the state’s borders considers being guilty of kidnapping (“California Kidnapping/ Abduction Laws”, 2013).
Kidnapping, as a severe crime, is punishable by jail for four, five, eight years in the state prison. A child’s kidnapping is a criminal act, in which a child, who is younger than 14 years old, is taken and held for ransom. If the accused person is not a parent or another individual with permission granted by a court, the term of imprisonment in the state prison rises to five, eight, or eleven years. Kidnapping is a federal criminal that is usually connected with other felonies. If a murder or another specified offense occurs during the kidnapping, the prosecuting attorney can charge the defendant with first degree murder. If an individual kidnaps with the purpose to commit sodomy, robbery, rape, and oral copulation, he/ she will be punished by life imprisonment in the state jail with the possibility of parole.
The punishments usually vary depending on the nature of offenses. The court takes into consideration various factors such as how much force a defendant used to commit kidnapping, whether he involved money in offense and what were his intent and goal behind the crime. In the Californian law, a victim has to have been moved on a substantial distance, which means that simply moving a person from one room to another one will probably not constitute kidnapping. However, if the threat of danger is intensified by that moving, then the court considers the moving of even a small distance to be kidnapping.
If a person commits homicide during kidnapping, he/ she will be punished by death row or will be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. If the state approves the request for a trial period, California law may require a term of imprisonment for a defendant in the county prison for one year, as a condition of probation. If the court does not request probation, the court should explain the interest of justice that requires a more lenient sentence (“California Kidnapping Laws”, 2013).
One phenomenon that regularly occurs in California State is kidnapping of the family members. As a family abduction, and it is usually observed in the cases of separation, divorce, or cases, where violence and abuse occur in the family. Famous organizations such as Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are engaged in the prevention of family abduction. Nowadays, there are many cases in which a non-custodian takes possession of children. This case demonstrates violation of the divorce agreement and can be considered kidnapping. Some individuals are afraid for their children’s safety, because of the family violence. In this connection, they file a restraining order that impedes a person from coming closer to certain individuals in the family. If a person, who has a restrictive order against him, takes alien or even own child, it can serve as a basis for the kidnapping charge (“Kidnapping”, n.d.). The Californian Department of Justice has the great responsibility of protecting citizens. The U.S. Division of Law Enforcement cooperates with the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, in order to diminish offenses in the state. Kidnapping is quite a serious felony that appears as a strike under the Californian “three strikes” law. It was enacted to impose harsher punishments on criminals who have committed three or more severe crimes. Today, everyone has to be aware that the California state considers kidnapping a serious felony, and any potential offender cannot expect condescension in this case.