New York Penal Law 135.20 Kidnapping Second Degree
Kidnapping is a very serious crime in New York that involves illegally restraining someone and taking them to a location where they are not likely to be found. Even though kidnapping often involves demanding ransom, ransom does not need to be demanded for it to be considered kidnapping under the law.
Overview of Kidnapping Laws in New York
There are two degrees of kidnapping under New York law:
- Kidnapping in the First Degree (NY Penal Law 135.25)
- Kidnapping in the Second Degree (NY Penal Law 135.20)
Kidnapping in the Second Degree is when someone “abducts” another person. Abduct means that they restricted the person’s movements to interfere with their liberty, either by:
- Moving them from one place to another without consent, or
- Confining them without consent
And they did this to prevent the person from being liberated by:
- Holding them in a secret place where they are not likely to be found, or
- Using or threatening to use deadly physical force
Some examples of Kidnapping in the Second Degree:
- A man forces his girlfriend into his car by threatening her with a knife and takes her to a cabin in the woods.
- A woman secretly holds a child in her house without telling the parents where the child is.
Kidnapping in the First Degree involves additional circumstances like:
- Demanding ransom
- Restraining the victim for over 12 hours
- Injuring, sexually abusing, or killing the victim
- Furthering another felony crime
Penalties for Kidnapping Second Degree
Kidnapping in the Second Degree is a Class B felony in New York. The penalties are:
- Up to 25 years in prison
- Up to $30,000 in fines
It is also classified as a violent felony. This means even someone with no prior record will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison if convicted.
If the victim was under 17 years old and not the child of the defendant, it requires registering as a sex offender upon release.
Defenses to Kidnapping Charges
There are several defenses that a skilled criminal defense lawyer can use to fight kidnapping charges:
- Consent: If the alleged victim consented to go with you and be confined, it is not kidnapping. However, children under 16 and mentally incompetent people cannot legally consent.
- Relative: It is a defense if the defendant is a relative of the victim and only intended to assume control over them.
- No restraint occurred: If the prosecution cannot prove restraint, confinement, or secrecy, they cannot prove kidnapping.
- No intent: If the taking was accidental or there was no intent to prevent liberation, it is not kidnapping.
- No physical force: Using deception rather than physical force or threats can lead to an unlawful imprisonment charge instead.
- False allegations: If the victim fabricated or exaggerated the events, the charges can be fought.
How Kidnapping Cases Play Out
Kidnapping cases typically start with a report of a missing person. The police will investigate to try to locate the missing person. If they have evidence that someone abducted the person, they may arrest a suspect.
Prosecutors have to prove every element of kidnapping beyond a reasonable doubt. The trial will focus on testimony from the victim, witnesses, police, and forensic evidence. The defense will try to undermine the credibility of witnesses and raise doubts.
If a defendant is found guilty at trial, they can file an appeal claiming errors were made in the court proceedings. Appeals courts can overturn convictions if the law was wrongly applied.
Many kidnapping cases end in plea bargains to avoid harsh sentences. An experienced lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges like unlawful imprisonment. Defendants who plead guilty often get lighter sentences than if convicted at trial.
Real World Examples of Kidnapping Second Degree Cases
Here are some real cases that illustrate how Kidnapping in the Second Degree charges play out:
- People v. Gonzalez (2019) – Gonzalez confined his ex-girlfriend in his apartment overnight against her will. He pled guilty to Kidnapping 2nd Degree and was sentenced to 4 years in prison.
- People v. Johnson (2021) – Johnson secretly held a 3 year old child of his girlfriend in his home for 2 days without the mother’s knowledge. A jury convicted him of Kidnapping 2nd Degree and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
- People v. Williams (2017) – Williams forced a woman into a van at gunpoint and drove her to a warehouse, where he sexually assaulted her. He was convicted at trial of Kidnapping 1st Degree, Rape 1st Degree and sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.
Finding the Best Defense Lawyer for Your Case
The consequences of a kidnapping conviction are extremely severe. Your best chance at avoiding decades behind bars is having an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer on your side.
The lawyer can thoroughly investigate your case, identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence, and build a strong defense. An attorney knows how to negotiate effectively with prosecutors to get charges reduced or dismissed.
Don’t leave your fate to chance. The sooner you contact a defense lawyer after an arrest, the better. They can start working immediately to protect your rights and future. Consultations are confidential. Let an expert review your options and build the strongest case for your innocence.