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NY Penal Law 135 – Kidnapping and Coercion

By Spodek Law Group | June 2, 2016
(Last Updated On: July 27, 2023)

Last Updated on: 27th July 2023, 04:34 pm

In this post we’re going to get into some of the terms, definitions, and charges that are involved in crimes of kidnapping and coercion. Let’s start with some definitions first.

Unlawful imprisonment, kidnapping and custodial interference; definitions of terms

First of all, to restrain someone is to restrict their movements in a way that interferes with their liberty by moving them from one place to another, or by confining them somewhere without consent. This lack of consent happens through physical force, intimidation, or any means if it’s a child younger than sixteen or an incompetent person and the parent hasn’t assented to their movement or confinement. Abduct means to restrain someone by putting them somewhere they probably won’t be found or using or threatening deadly force. Relative means a parent, ancestor, sister, brother, aunt or uncle.

Unlawful imprisonment in the second degree

You’re guilty of this when you restrain someone else, and with this you’ll be facing a class A misdemeanor.

Unlawful imprisonment in the first degree

This is when you restrain someone under circumstances that expose the person to a risk of physical injury. This is a class E felony.

Unlawful imprisonment; defense

In any prosecution for unlawful imprisonment, it’s an affirmative defense that the person restrained was younger than sixteen and you were a relative of this child, and the sole purpose was to assume control of the child.

Kidnapping in the second degree

You’re guilty of this when you abduct someone. This is a class B felony.
You’d be guilty of this crime if you abducted someone with the intent to get a ransom from someone else, or if you restrain the person for longer than twelve hours with the intent to inflict an injury or sexually abuse them, commit a felony, terrorize them or a third person, or interfere with the performance of a government function. This is a class A-I felony.

Kidnapping; defense

It’s an affirmative defense for this charge if you’re a relative of the person abducted and your sole purpose was to assume control of the person.

Labor trafficking

To be guilty of this, you’d have to compel someone into labor or transport this person by requiring that the labor repay a supposed debt with the intent of defrauding the person, or withholding, destroying, or even confiscating some sort of legal document from a person in order to limit this person’s freedom of movement. This is a class D felony.

Labor trafficking; accomplice

In prosecution for this crime, someone who’s been compelled to engage in labor won’t be considered an accomplice.
You’re guilty of this crime if you compel someone to engage in labor by giving the person a substance to impair their judgment. This is a class C felony.

Custodial interference in the second degree

You’re guilty of this one if you’re a relative of a child who’s younger than sixteen and intend to take the child permanently even though you have no right to, or if you take someone who’s either incompetent or entrusted by the authority of the law. This crime is a class A misdemeanor.

Custodial interference in the first degree

You’re guilty of this crime if you commit the preceding crime with the intent to permanently remove the victim from New York, or under circumstances that create a risk of endangering the safety of the victim. Keep in mind, it’s an affirmative defense if the victim was abandoned or if this taking was necessary in an emergency to protect the victim from abuse. This is a class E felony.

Substitution of children

To be guilty of this, you’ll have to provide parents with the wrong child after being entrusted with the care of their actual child. This is a class E felony.

Coercion in the second degree

You’re guilty of this crime when you compel someone to engage in conduct that they have a legal right not to do, or make them not engage in conduct they have a legal right to do, or compel them to join a group by using fear that you’ll cause injury to them, damage their property, or engage in conduct that would be considered a crime. This is a class A misdemeanor.

Coercion in the first degree

To be guilty of this, you’ll have to have committed the preceding crime and commit this crime by instilling fear in the victim that you’ll cause physical injury to that person or damage their property, or if you compel the victim to commit or attempt a felony, cause or try to cause physical injury, or violate your duty if you’re a public servant. This crime is a class D felony.

Coercion; no defense

The crimes of coercion and bribe receiving by a labor official are not mutually exclusive, and it isn’t a defense that because of the conduct, the defendant committed one of the crimes of bribe receiving.

Coercion; defense.

In any prosecution for coercion that’s committed by instilling fear in a victim that they’ll be charged with a crime, it’s an affirmative defense that you believed the charge to be true and your only purpose was to compel the victim to take action to make good the wrong.

Understanding Kidnapping and Coercion: Definitions and Charges

Crimes related to kidnapping and coercion can be quite nuanced and complex. To provide a comprehensive understanding, we will delve into the terms, definitions, and charges associated with these offenses. By doing so, we will paint a clearer picture of the severe consequences that can result from committing such acts.

Key Definitions: Restraint, Abduction, and More

Restraining an individual entails limiting their movements in a manner that interferes with their liberty, either by forcibly moving them from one location to another or confining them somewhere without their consent. Consent is deemed lacking if physical force, intimidation, or other means are employed towards a child under sixteen years old or an incompetent person without parental approval. Abduction involves restraining someone by concealing them in a place where discovery is unlikely or through the use of deadly force or threats. A relative refers to a parent, ancestor, sibling, aunt, or uncle.

Unlawful Imprisonment: Degrees and Defense

Unlawful imprisonment in the second degree occurs when a person restrains another individual, resulting in a class A misdemeanor charge. Unlawful imprisonment in the first degree takes place if the restrained person is exposed to the risk of physical injury, constituting a class E felony. It is important to note that if the restrained person is under sixteen years old and the accused is a relative, an affirmative defense may be presented by claiming the sole purpose of the restraint was to regain custody of the child.

Kidnapping: Severity and Defense

Committing kidnapping in the second degree entails abducting another person, leading to a class B felony charge. Under certain circumstances, the offense evolves into kidnapping in the first degree, a class A-I felony. This escalation transpires if the abduction takes place with the intent to extort ransom, inflict injury or sexually abuse the victim, or terrorize them or a third person, among other reasons. Similar to unlawful imprisonment, an affirmative defense can be presented if the accused claims they are a relative seeking to regain custody of the abducted individual.

Labor Trafficking: Offense and Accomplice Liability

Individuals found guilty of labor trafficking are those who compel or transport others into forced labor—with the intent of defrauding the person—by claiming repayment for an alleged debt or by withholding, confiscating, or destroying a legal document to limit an individual’s freedom of movement. Perpetrators of this crime will face a class D felony charge. However, someone who has been compelled to engage in the forced labor will not be considered an accomplice during prosecution.

Custodial Interference: Degrees and Defenses

A person can be accused of custodial interference in the second degree if they, as a relative of a child under sixteen years old, intend to remove the child permanently against legal custody rights or forcibly take someone who is either incompetent or entrusted by the authority of the law. This is a class A misdemeanor. The crime becomes custodial interference in the first degree, a class E felony, if the accused attempts to remove the victim from New York permanently or places them in a potentially dangerous situation. Abandonment of the victim or emergency protection from abuse may be used as affirmative defenses.

Substitution of Children

A particularly heinous act, substitution of children, involves providing parents with a different child after caring for their actual offspring. This despicable crime is considered a class E felony.

Coercion: Degrees, No Defense, and Defense

An individual is charged with coercion in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor, if they force someone to engage or abstain from certain conduct by employing fear through threats of causing physical harm or property damage, among other actions. When the use of fear escalates to compelling a victim to attempt a felony or endure physical injury, coercion in the first degree is committed, constituting a class D felony. Coercion and bribe receiving by a labor official are not mutually exclusive, and it is not a valid defense that the defendant’s conduct aligns with these charges. However, an affirmative defense may be presented in a coercion case if the accused believes their charges are accurate and seeks only to right the wrongs committed by the victim.

In summary, understanding the distinctions between varying degrees of kidnapping and coercion is critical for comprehending the intricate nature of these crimes. By examining the specifics, we gain a deeper appreciation for the gravity of such offenses and the severe repercussions that accompany them.

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