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Aggravated Kidnapping Penal Code 209 PC

July 2, 2021 California Penal Code

Pursuant to California Penal Code 209 PC, aggravated kidnapping involves taking a person for ransom or a reward or to commit another criminal act, like robbery or rape.  Aggravated kidnapping is a much more weighty charge than ordinary kidnapping under Penal Code 207.  It carries life sentence in prison.


Possible Defenses

Mercifully, there are a few legal defenses that a person can raise if accused of kidnapping under Penal Code 209. The possible defenses include showing that an accused party was not guilty of a kidnapping charge, that they were coerced into a confession,  and/or they were arrested without any probable cause.


In this article, the California criminal defense attorneys at Spodek Law Group will teach you:

  1. The legal definition of aggravated kidnapping
  2. What legal defenses to Penal Code 209 are the strongest?
  3. What penalties are connected to Aggravated kidnapping charges?
  4. What crimes are related to Aggravated Kidnapping?


  1. The legal definition of aggravated kidnapping

The California Penal Code 209(a) PC outlines that it is a crime for any individual or group to kidnap another party “for ransom, reward or to commit extortion or to exact from another person any money or valuable thing.”

Additionally, California Penal Code 209(b) states that it is a criminal offense for a person to kidnap another party in order to commit robbery, rape, spousal rape, under Penal Code 262 PC, oral copulation, under Penal Code 287 PC, or, sodomy, under Penal Code 286 PC.

Both of the versions of kidnapping in code section 209(a) and 209(b) are forms of aggravated kidnapping.

Defining Relevant Terms

The term “Kidnapping,”, in accordance with California law, is the act of removing a victim a substantial distance, using force or fear to do it. The transferring of the victim must also come without the victim’s consent.


The phrase “Force or fear”, for the purposes of this conversation, means that a defendant either   inflicted physical force on the alleged victim, or threatened to inflict imminent physical harm on the alleged victim.

  1. What legal defenses to Penal Code 209 are the strongest?

People accused under PC 209 can challenge the accusation by raising an effective legal defense.  A strong defense can often result in a charge being reduced or even dismissed. It is worthy of note that it is critical for an accused to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to get the most effective defense.

The three common defenses to PC 209 accusations are as follows:

  1. innocent of kidnapping;
  2. coerced confession; and/or,
  3. no probable cause.

Let’s examine these in more detail so you can understand how these defenses can work for you.


The “Innocent of kidnapping” defense

California Penal Code 209 makes it a criminal offense for a person to kidnap another party for ransom or to commit a crime. Therefore, a defendant cannot be convicted under the code section if he is innocent of the underlying offense of the kidnapping itself.  The defense can try to demonstrate that he is not guilty of kidnapping by proving that he did not move an alleged victim a substantial distance, and if he or she did move the person, they did not use force or fear to do move them.


The “Coerced confession” defense

This defense applies to the scenario in which a defendant was charged under PC 209 following a confession.  The law forbids police officers from using overbearing measures to coerce a confession.   If a defendant can show that the police coerced him into a confession, then the judge may exclude the confession from evidence or the case could get dismissed altogether if the person was subjected to pressure that caused him or her to confess to a crime they didn’t commit.


The “No probable cause” defense

This line of defense attempts to exclude evidence that exists against a defendant for a PC 209 violation. The most common scenario is when a person was stopped or arrested without probable cause.  If this can be demonstrated, then any evidence investigators obtained following the improper stop or arrest should be excluded from the case. This one detail could lead to the dismissal or reduction in charges.


  1. What penalties are connected to Aggravated Kidnapping charges?

Breaking the law enshrined in Penal Code 209 PC results in a felony charge.  The punishment connected to this offense, though, depends upon whether an individual is guilty under PC 209(a) or PC 209(b).

In the event that a defendant is accused of kidnapping for ransom, and in the process, the victim suffers death or bodily harm, then that person is looking at imprisonment in the California state prison for life without the possibility of parole. If no death or bodily harm, then the defendant is looking at life in prison with the possibility of parole.

In matters where an accused is guilty of kidnapping to commit a crime, the punishment is incarceration in the California state prison for life with the possibility of parole.5

For persons convicted under either Penal Code 209(a) or 209(b), if felony probation is granted, Penal Code 209(c) says that the defendant must still serve 12 months in the county jail as a condition of the probation.


  1. What crimes are related to Aggravated Kidnapping?

There are three criminal offenses related to kidnapping for ransom or kidnapping to commit a crime:

  1. kidnapping – PC 207;
  2. kidnapping of a minor child under the age of 14; and,
  3. kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking – PC 209.5

If you or another person close to you has been accused of a crime, under California Penal Code 209, you are invited to contact the attorneys at Spodek law Group for your free, confidential legal consultation to discuss your unique circumstances and start considering solutions.



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