North Bergen NJ Kidnapping Lawyer
Kidnapping in New Jersey is one of the most serious crimes you could possibly face. In fact, the punishment for kidnapping can be greater than or equal the punishments for rape and murder under certain circumstances. That is why it can not be stressed enough that defendants who are facing charges of kidnapping and related crimes of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, stalking or terroristic threats should retain experienced and competent criminal defense attorneys to handle their cases. Kidnapping cases can often involve intricate facts or even a “he said, she said” scenario where the resources of an experienced lawyer may be irreplaceable such as subpoenaing surveillance video, utilizing an investigator to interview witnesses, document a scene, or conduct a polygraph examination. At Proetta & Oliver, our attorneys defend clients against kidnapping charges throughout Hudson County, New Jersey including Jersey City, West New York, Union City, Hoboken, Kearny, Weehawken, Secaucus, and Harrison. To learn more about how we may be able to defend a kidnapping case, contact us today for a free consultation at (201) 793-8018.
What is a Kidnapping?
“Kidnapping” can obviously mean what everyone sees in the movies such as holding a person for ransom or hostage. But surprisingly it can have a lot of other meanings and cover a wide array of criminal acts. Moreover, you don’t actually need to “kidnap” or remove the victim from one place to another place because it is the same standard if you simply confine them where they were found. There are also several circumstances where you can be charged with kidnapping without having the purpose to hold the victim for ransom or as a hostage. For instance, if you move someone or hold that person for a substantial period of time with the purpose to (1) to facilitate commission of any crime or flight thereafter; (2) to inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another; (3) to interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function; or (4) to permanently deprive a parent, guardian, or other lawful custodian of custody of the victim. These different standards often lead to people being charged with kidnapping during a domestic violence dispute where one person does not want the other person to leave. Astonishingly, another common example of kidnapping when often see is when a parent takes the child without the permission of other parent during a custody dispute or divorce.
Grading of Kidnapping Charges in New Jersey
Kidnapping can be graded as a first degree crime or second degree crime and, depending on the circumstances, can have enhanced state prison terms compared to other crimes of the same degree. In order to better help you understand the factors that can contribute to the degree of the kidnapping crime and the sentence you could possible face we have put together an easy to read chart for your convenience.
|Degree of Kidnapping Crime||Circumstances of Kidnapping||Prison for Kidnapping|
|1st Degree Kidnapping Enhanced||Victim is under 16 years old and defendant commits an act of (1) sexual assault; (2) aggravated sexual assault; (3) endangering the welfare of a child or (4) sells the victim for money.||25 years to life in prison|
|1st Degree Kidnapping||Kidnaps the victim but they do not release the victim unharmed prior to apprehension||15 – 30 years in prison|
|2nd Degree Kidnapping||If the defendant releases the victim unharmed||5 – 10 years in prison|
Defenses to Kidnapping in New Jersey
There are several affirmative defenses to kidnapping that must be proved by clear and convincing evidence in order to prevail. Almost of these defenses deal with a kidnapping charge that involves taking a minor or child from a parent or guardian in order to deprive them of custody. The following circumstances can be used as an affirmative defense in this situation:
- The defendant reasonably believed that the action was necessary to save the victim from imminent danger to his welfare. However, for this defense to work, the defendant must notify police or another state agency within 24 hours after taking a victim;
- It was reasonable for the defendant to believe that their taking of the victim was consented to by a parent, or by an authorized State agency;
- The child was taken away by their own choice and the defendant did not have a purpose to commit a crime against the victim. However, for this defense to work, the child has to be at least 14 years old.
Under circumstances where the defendant is a custodial parent (has the right of custody to the child) the following affirmative defenses can apply:
- It was reasonable for the defendant to believe they were fleeing from imminent danger from the other parent. However, for this defense to work, the defendant must police of the victim’s location as soon as reasonable practicable OR commences an action affecting the child’s custody in the appropriate court. Note: this is a different standard that the hard lined “24 hours” in earlier the affirmative defense involving someone who is not the custodial parent.
The Differences Between Kidnapping vs. Criminal Restraint vs. False Imprisonment
The criminal statutes for kidnapping under 2C:13-1, criminal restraint under 2C:13-2, and false imprisonment under 2C:13-3 all share similar elements but it is important to distinguish the difference because it can mean the difference between a first degree felony which can result in life in state prison and a disorderly persons offense which would most likely result in fines. We have put together a chart for your reading convenience that helps break down the differences between these very similar criminal offenses.
2C:13-1. Kidnapping – 1st or 2nd Degree Crime
Unlawfully removes another from his place of residence or business, or a substantial distance from the vicinity where he is found, or if he unlawfully confines another for a substantial period, with any of the following purposes
2C:13-2. Criminal Restraint – 3rd Degree Crime
2C:13-3. False imprisonment – Disorderly Persons Offense