Kidnapping charges in St. Petersburg should not be taken lightly. Florida kidnapping statutes define crime as “confinement, abduction, or imprisonment of another person against (their) will by force, threat of force, or coercion.” The prosecution must prove the suspect willfully intended to commit the crime by:
- “Holding the victim for ransom, reward, or to serve as a shield or hostage
- Facilitating the commission of any felony
- Inflict bodily (or emotional) harm upon, or terrorize, the victim
- Interfere with the performance of a governmental or political function”
Common defenses of state kidnapping charges include lack of intent and consent of the kidnapped person (or the parents if the victim is a child).
In Florida, kidnapping is a life felony, which means a conviction is punishable by a sentence of up to life in a state penitentiary and a possible fine of up $15,000 [Fla. Stat § 787.01 (2)]. Often, other felony charges for violent crimes may accompany kidnapping charges, making a very serious offense even more so. Other charges can include:
- Assault (and battery)
- Sexual assault (and battery)
- Use, or threatening to use, a weapon or firearm
- The victim is a law enforcement or corrections officer or some other specified public employee in the performance of his or her duties
Convictions of any of the aggravating crimes can lead to even harsher prison sentences Defendants with previous convictions for a violent felony can receive a mandatory minimum of 15 years up to life in prison. And if the suspect kills the victim during the kidnapping, it is a capital crime that could lead to the death penalty.
Depending on the circumstances, federal charges can be filed against the suspect [18 United States Code § 1201]. The penalty upon conviction is a prison sentence of up to life. The convicted may face the death penalty if the victim dies [18 U.SC. § 2205].
Aggravated Kidnapping of Minor Children
Florida also classifies kidnapping of a child under age 13 as an aggravated offense if any of the following apply.
- Aggravated child abuse [Fla. Stat. § 827.03]
- Sexual battery of a child [Fla. Stat. § 794]
- Child molestation, promoting lascivious child conduct or exhibition [Fla. Stat. § 800.04 or 847.0135(5)]
- Procurement of the child for prostitution, or forcing, compelling or coercing the child to become a prostitute, or to engage in child pornography [Fla. Stat. § 03]
- Exploitation of the child or allowing the child to be exploited. This also applies to parents or guardians of a child who allow or encourage the child to be kidnapped for any of the above suspect behaviors [Fla. Stat. § 450.151]
In addition to the above kidnapping charges, the defendant can face charges of human trafficking [Fla. Stat. § 787.06] depending on the circumstances of the case. The defendant may even face federal sex trafficking charges under 18 U.S. Code § 1591.
Other underlying federal charges can include prostitution [8 U.S. Code § 2421], the creation and distribution of child pornography [18 U.S. Code § 2251], or when victims are forced to work in the sex or pornography trade. Additional federal charges that may accompany any of the above charges can include violations of federal RICO, money laundering and conspiracy statutes. Depending on the charges, those convicted of federal kidnapping can serve terms beginning at 20 years.
If you face kidnapping charges in St. Petersburg, Pinellas, Hillsborough or surrounding areas, you need an experienced criminal lawyer to help mount an effective defense. The defense attorneys with Goldman Wetzel offer a free evaluation of your case. Contact us at 727-828-3900 or fill out our online contact form.