Kidnapping (NYPL 135.20)

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Kidnapping is one of the most serious crimes in New York’s criminal code.  While on television crime dramas kidnapping cases often involving a stranger being kidnapped in an effort to get money, in reality the victims of kidnapping are commonly family members and acquaintances.   Regardless of who the victim is, kidnapping is considered one of the most serious crimes.  Like the crime of murder, if you are convicted of the most serious kidnapping charge, you could end up spending the rest of your life in prison.   Kidnapping is defined as abducting another person.   There are two kidnapping offenses:  kidnapping in the second degree and kidnapping in the first degree.   Both are felonies.

Kidnapping charges

If you abduct someone you will be charged with kidnapping in the second degree.   N.Y. Pen. Law § 135.20.  Abducting someone is defined as restraining a person in a secret place or retraining a person by using or threatening to use deadly physical force.  It is a Class B felony.  Because kidnapping in the second degree is also classified as a violent felony, if you are convicted you will be sentenced to at least 5 years in prison and you could be sentenced to up to 25 years.

You will face the more serious charge of kidnapping in the first degree if you abduct someone and:

  • You require the payment of ransom or performance or non-performance of certain acts
  • You restrain the victim for more than 12 hours in order to injure the victim, sexually abuse the victim, commit a felony, terrorize a third person, or interfere with governmental or political activities
  • The victim dies

Kidnapping in the first degree is a class A-I felony.  N.Y. Pen. Law § 135.20.  If you are convicted you will be sentenced to at least 20 years in prison and you could end up spending the rest of your life in prison.

Unlawful imprisonment and custodial interference distinguished

Kidnapping is distinguishable from the crime of unlawful imprisonment.  Unlawful imprisonment involves only restraining the victim and not abducting the victim, while with kidnapping the victim is abducted.  N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 135.05 and 135.10

Another crime that is similar to both kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment is custodial interference. You will be charged with custodial interference if you hold a child who is under the age of 16 and who is relative for a protracted period when you had not right to do so.  N.Y. Pen. Law §§ 135.45 and 135.50

A kidnapping charge is very complicated.  Because there is a possibility that you could end up spending years and years in prison if you are convicted, it is important that you are represented by someone with experience successfully representing clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with serious criminal offenses such as kidnapping.

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