Pittsburgh Kidnapping Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with kidnapping, you may be exposed to significant criminal liability under Pennsylvania law. Kidnapping is prosecuted as a first-degree felony with penalties that include up to 20 years imprisonment and up to $25,000 in fines. This can have life-altering consequences for the defendant. As such, it’s important that you get in touch with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that the case can be fully evaluated (and a strategy developed) in a timely manner.
Elements of a Kidnapping Charge Under Pennsylvania Law
According to Section 2901 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, a person will be found guilty of kidnapping if he:
- Unlawfully removes another person a substantial distance under the circumstances from the place where he is found; or
- Unlawfully confines another or a substantial period in a place of isolation;
- With the intention of holding the victim:
- For ransom, reward, or as a shield or hostage;
- For facilitating commission of any felony or flight thereafter;
- So as to inflict bodily injury or terrorize the victim or another; or
- So as to interfere with the performance by public officials of any governmental or political function.
Unlawful removal or confinement requires either force, deception or threats. In the case of a minor below the age of 14, unlawful removal or confinement may simply involve the lack of the parent or guardian’s consent.
All this legalese can be daunting, but fundamentally, the kidnapping offense is quite straightforward in its construction. Kidnapping can perhaps be more simply described as an offense that turns on either unlawful removal or unlawful confinement, alongside one of the above “negative” intentions.
For example, if you locked a stranger in a room for the sake of causing them to fear for their life, then that would constitute a kidnapping under Pennsylvania law. On the other hand, if you confined them because they were attempting to attack you, then you would not have the intention necessary for criminal liability to attach.
Common Defenses to Kidnapping
Victim Not Removed a Substantial Distance Away
Whether you removed the victim a substantial distance away from their original found location is a fact-specific inquiry that depends on the circumstances. Generally speaking, courts will find that you have moved the victim a “substantial distance” if it has sufficiently isolated them from outside help.
Victim Not Confined for a Substantial Period
You cannot be held liable for confining someone for an insubstantial period of time. This is also dependent on the circumstances. If you are angry at someone, for example, and you trap them in a room for less than a minute with the intention of frightening them, that will likely be insufficient for a kidnapping conviction.
Further, the substantial period of confinement must involve “isolation.” Otherwise it is not confinement. If you lock the victim inside a busy public cafeteria, that would likely not be considered kidnapping.
You Had Consent
If the victim was not actually a “victim,” and willingly accompanied you or agreed to be confined, then you cannot be held liable for kidnapping.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Pittsburgh Kidnapping Defense Attorney at McKinney Law
Here at McKinney Law, our attorneys have extensive experience advocating on behalf of Pennsylvania criminal defendants, including those who have been charged with a kidnapping offense.
We are committed to personalized, client-oriented representation. It is our belief that by making ourselves accessible to our clients – and by working closely with our clients from the beginning of the engagement – we position ourselves advantageously for the criminal dispute at-issue. We respond to any and all client inquiries within just 24 hours, and are available for afterhours consultations, if necessary.
Interested in learning more about our services and how we can help you defend against the charges that have been brought against you? Call (412) 520-3301 or submit a case evaluation form through our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Pittsburgh kidnapping defense attorney at McKinney Law.