Miami Kidnapping Defense Attorney
Kidnapping is a serious crime under Florida law, which occurs when someone confines, abducts, or imprisons another person forcibly, secretly, or by threat and against his will. This is a first-degree felony in Florida and can carry a jail sentence up to life in prison. Those convicted also face lifetime probation, as well as fines up to $10,000.
The crime of kidnapping is incredibly serious. If you are convicted, you could face a lifetime in prison. In many cases, one parent who is frustrated with a custody agreement leaves with a child in violation of the child custody agreement. Prosecutors may bring trespassing charges. It is essential that you hire a skilled Florida criminal defense lawyer to advocate on your behalf.
Common Examples of Kidnapping
Under Florida law, kidnapping is the unlawful seizure, detention, or transportation of a person against his or her will. Kidnapping also includes the unlawful seizure, transportation, and abduction of a minor child without his or her legal guardian or custodial parents. Florida recognizes the following types of kidnapping:
- The kidnapping of a child under the age of 13
- Aggravated kidnapping of a child
- Aircraft piracy
- Interference with custody
- Removing minors from the state of Florida
- Concealing minors contrary to state agency or court orders
Many times, Florida kidnapping happens between two people who already know each other. Perhaps a misunderstanding took place, or maybe one parent decides to leave with his or her child and crosses state lines, triggering charges. In 2018, law enforcement officers made 776 arrests for kidnapping or abduction. Of those cases, 66 of the victims were juveniles.
Aggravated Kidnapping of a Child
Florida courts punish aggravated kidnapping more seriously than non-aggravated kidnapping. Aggravated kidnapping includes kidnapping a child under the age of 13. Those convicted of aggravated kidnapping are subject to a life imprisonment sentence in a Florida state prison.
Or, judges can impose a split sentence of at least 25 years in jail, followed by community control or probation for the remainder of the natural life of the individual. Courts also have the option of imposing a fine on the defendant, up to $15,000. Kidnapping upon a child under the age of 13 happens when the defendant commits one or more of the following acts against the child:
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated child abuse
- Lewd or lascivious battery
- Molestation, conduct, or exhibition
- The exploitation of the child or allowing the child to be exposed
- Procurement of the child for prostitution
- Compelling the child to become a prostitute
Habitual Violent Felony Offenders
If you have already been convicted of any violent felony, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit a violent felony, you will face extremely harsh penalties, if convicted. Those defendants who fall into this category are considered habitual violent felony offenders. They can be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
Defenses in Florida
One of the best defenses to kidnapping charges is to show how you know the victim. You can provide evidence that you did not intend to harm the victim and that the incident was a misunderstanding. If the victim misidentified you, or you have an alibi, we can help you prove that you were not at the scene of the crime, and couldn’t have been there. Other possible defenses to kidnapping include the following:
- You were not mentally stable at the time of the incident
- The victim is a relative, and the situation was a misunderstanding
- You didn’t know that you were committing the crime of kidnapping
- You did not intend to harm the victim
- The victim consented to leave with you at the time of the incident
- You were not holding the person hostage
Kidnapping Your Child in Florida
Child custody matters and orders are often extremely confusing, especially when one parent’s circumstances have changed. When one parent violates an existing custody order without permission, the other parent can accuse him or her of kidnapping. For example, if a parent is required to take her child back to her co-parent on Monday, per the custody agreement, and instead leaves the country for a week on vacation, she could face charges. Many parents assume that if their child willingly goes with them, they cannot face charges. On the contrary, parents who violate child custody orders can face serious penalties for child kidnapping.
A court can convict a parent of kidnapping their child if a child custody suit or divorce has been filed. Until the court enters the final custody agreement or divorce agreement, both parents retain the rights to their child. These rights usually only pertain to the child’s biological parents, unless the child has adoptive parents or a non-parent legal guardian.
If you have been accused of kidnapping your own child, you may be inclined to brush off the charges. It is your child, after all. Doing so can bring forth extremely negative consequences, however. The sooner you speak to an experienced lawyer, the better. A criminal defense lawyer will help you ensure that your rights are protected.
Contact Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
The sooner you contact an experienced defense lawyer, the better. After reviewing the facts of your case, we will help you develop a compelling legal defense strategy. Our legal team knows how to gather evidence in support of our clients. We will check for any mistakes made by law enforcement officers and work hard to protect your rights throughout the process. The consequences of a kidnapping conviction can be devastating; they can significantly hinder your future. Working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer is essential. Contact Valiente, Carollo, and McElligot PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation.