Kidnapping and Related Offenses

Kidnapping

A person is guilty of kidnapping if he unlawfully removes another person a substantial distance from the place where that other person is found, or if he unlawfully confines another person for a substantial period in a place of isolation, with any of the following intentions:

  • to hold for ransom or reward, or as a shield or hostage
  • to facilitate the commission of any felony or flight after committing a felony
  • to inflict bodily injury on another person or to terrorize the victim or another
  • to interfere with the performance by public officials of any governmental or political function

As used in the above definition, a removal or confinement is considered unlawful under the following circumstances:

  • if it is accomplished by force, threat or deception
  • in the case of an incapacitated person or a person under the age of 14, if it is accomplished without the consent of a parent, guardian or other person responsible for general supervision of the victim's welfare

Kidnapping is a felony of the first degree and is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years of incarceration and a $25,000 fine. If the victim of the kidnapping is younger than 18 years of age, then the perpetrator faces harsher penalties.

Unlawful Restraint

A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he does one of the following:

  • restrains another unlawfully in circumstances exposing him to risk of serious bodily injury
  • holds another in a condition of involuntary servitude

A person commits a felony of the second degree if he does either of the acts above to a person under the age of 18 regardless of whether or not he is a parent of that child.

False Imprisonment

This offense is committed when a person knowingly restrains another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with his liberty.

If the victim is an adult, then this offense is a misdemeanor of the second degree and punishable by a maximum sentence of 2 years of incarceration and a $5,000 fine.

If the victim is under the age of 18, then the offense is a felony of the second degree and is punishable by a maximum of 10 years of incarceration and a $25,000 fine.

Interference with Child Custody

This offense is defined as knowingly or recklessly taking or enticing any child under the age of 18 from the custody of its parent, guardian or other lawful guardian, with no privilege to do so.

The following are defenses to the crime:

  • the actor believed that his action was necessary to preserve the child from danger to its welfare
  • the child, being older than 14 years old, was taken away at the child's own instigation without enticement and without purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the child
  • the actor is the child's parent or guardian or other lawful custodian and is not acting contrary to a court order

This offense is usually graded as a felony of the third degree and is punishable by a maximum sentence of 7 years of incarceration and a $15,000 fine. But, if the actor, who is not a parent or guardian of the child, acted with knowledge that his conduct would cause serious alarm for the safety of the child, or in reckless disregard of a likelihood of causing such alarm then the offense is a felony of the second degree.

The offense is graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree if the actor acted with good cause for a period of time less than 24 hours AND

  • the victim child is the subject of a valid court order of custody issued by a court in Pennsylvania; and
  • the actor has been given either partial custody or visitation rights under that order; and
  • the actor is a Pennsylvania resident and does not take the victim child from the state of Pennsylvania

Luring a Child into a Motor Vehicle or Structure

Unless the circumstances reasonably indicate that the child is in need of assistance, this crime is committed when a person lures or attempts to lure a child into a motor vehicle or structure without the consent, express or implied, of the child's parent or guardian.

This offense is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree if the child is over the age of 13. If the child is under the age of 13, then the offense is a felony of the second degree.

Mistake as to the age of the child is not a defense to the crime.

It is a defense to this crime that the person lured or attempted to lure the child into the structure for a lawful purpose.

Kidnapping and the related charges can result in a significant jail sentence. If you've been charged with Kidnapping, Unlawful Restraint, False Imprisonment, Interference with Custody of Children or Luring a Child, you need our experienced criminal defense attorneys on your side. Call our attorneys in Berks County, PA at 610-372-5128 or submit your case online.