Kidnapping and false imprisonment charges could apply to any act where someone deprives an alleged victim of their freedom of movement against their will. A conviction for these charges could land you in prison for life. Having an experienced attorney by your side while battling these charges could help you avoid a decades-long prison sentence.
Contact Metcalf Falls, Criminal Defense Attorneys, P.A., to learn how we can help you defend against kidnapping and false imprisonment charges.
Florida Kidnapping Laws
Florida’s kidnapping law is found in Florida Statutes § 787.01. Under this law, kidnapping happens when one person confines another person forcibly, secretly, or by threat. They do this against the other person’s will and without lawful authority.
To prove kidnapping, prosecutors must also prove you had one of the following four purposes:
- To hold the victim for ransom or use them as a shield or hostage
- To commit or facilitate a felony
- To inflict bodily harm upon them or terrorize them or another person
- To interfere with the performance of a governmental function
Finally, parental kidnapping can fall under the Florida statute if the child is under 13 and you lack both lawful authority and the other parent’s consent. For example, a parent could kidnap their child if they keep them beyond their scheduled visitation time to extort money from the other parent.
What Is False Imprisonment?
False imprisonment is a broader but less serious related offense. Under Florida Statutes § 787.02, someone commits false imprisonment by confining someone forcibly, secretly, or by threat against their will and without lawful authority.
The difference between false imprisonment and kidnapping is that false imprisonment does not require prosecutors to prove one of the four purposes. In other words, false imprisonment is kidnapping without the four elements of intent.
Other Related Offenses
Many crimes involve detention. For example, robbery, rape, and even some forms of domestic violence inherently involve restraint of the victim’s movement.
Under Florida’s Faison Rule, prosecutors can only charge you with kidnapping or false imprisonment when the detention is not inherent in the other crime. They must also show the detention had some significance independent of the other crime.
Penalties for Kidnapping in Florida
Kidnapping, like many violent crimes, is a first-degree felony in Florida. The sentence includes a term of imprisonment up to life in prison. The sentence gets enhanced to life in prison when the kidnapping victim is a child under 13 and the kidnapper commits any of the following crimes against the child:
- Aggravated child abuse
- Sexual battery
- Lewd or lascivious battery, molestation, conduct, or exhibition
- Exploitation or allowing the exploitation of a minor
- Human trafficking
To prove these underlying crimes, prosecutors must meet the elements given in the corresponding statute.
False Imprisonment Penalties
False imprisonment is a third-degree felony. It carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. The court can enhance the charge to a first-degree felony with a sentence of up to life in prison when the prosecutors prove the victim was a child under 13 and the kidnapper committed any of the underlying crimes listed above.
Defending Against Kidnapping Charges in Florida
A Tampa kidnapping attorney’s job is to vigorously defend you from the power of the state. Fortunately, prosecutors must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction. This means that any gap in the prosecution’s evidence can give a judge or jury grounds to acquit.Your defense could include many types of arguments, including:
First, you could defend yourself by pointing out that the prosecutors have not proven all the elements of the offense. Both kidnapping and false imprisonment require some form of detention. If the prosecution fails to prove that the alleged victim was detained, the jury cannot convict you.
Second, you could rebut the prosecution’s evidence. Kidnapping and false imprisonment require detention without the alleged victim’s consent. Suppose the alleged victim testified they told you not to restrain them. You can present testimony from other witnesses that the alleged victim consented to the restraint.
Justification for Restraint
Third, your defense could include justifications for the alleged restraint. Suppose the prosecution’s case for detention is that you took the alleged victim’s car keys, thereby preventing them from leaving. You can show that they were severely intoxicated, and you took the keys to prevent them from getting into a drunk driving crash.
Contact a Tampa Kidnapping Defense Attorney Today
A conviction for kidnapping or false imprisonment in Florida could earn you a lengthy prison sentence. Metcalf Falls, Criminal Defense Attorneys, P.A., has experienced criminal defense attorneys who can craft a defense for your particular situation. We gather exculpatory evidence and present the arguments to get a fair outcome based on what happened.