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New York Kidnapping Charges

By Spodek Law Group | February 13, 2023

Kidnapping Crimes: Understanding the Nuances and Complexities of New York Penal Law

Kidnapping is one of the most serious offenses in the New York Penal Law. It involves abducting another person with the intent of preventing their liberation, either by holding them in a place where they are unlikely to be found or by threatening to use deadly physical force. Kidnapping in the Second Degree, a B Felony, can result in a sentence of up to 25 years in prison, while Kidnapping in the First Degree, an A-I Felony, can result in a life sentence. However, despite the straightforward definition, Kidnapping offenses are among the most complex, intricate, and difficult cases in the New York courts.

The Unusual Circumstances and Nuances of Kidnapping Cases in New York

The circumstances and details of Kidnapping cases are often incredibly unusual and wrapped up with all kinds of nuance and history between the parties involved. For example, a relative in Brooklyn may take a child away from the parents due to a sincere belief that the child is being subjected to harm or abuse. An embittered friend and business partner in Queens may try to compel the payment of money from another person. Or a home robbery in Westchester County, where the homeowners unknowingly enter the home and interrupt the ongoing crime, can all lead to Kidnapping charges. The facts are almost never as straightforward as the language of the statute might lead you to believe. What may be considered “typical” or “traditional” Kidnapping is just a tiny fraction of the Kidnapping cases in New York that criminal defense attorneys, such as those at Spodek Law Group, are confronted with on behalf of their respective clients.

The Seriousness of Kidnapping Charges in New York

Kidnapping in the Second Degree is a broad statute that can cover all kinds of circumstances. Assuming it is your first offense, the law mandates a sentence of no less than five years upon conviction. Kidnapping in the First Degree is an even more serious offense that requires one of several aggravating factors, such as holding the victim for ransom, inflicting injury, sexually abusing them, terrorizing the victim, or interfering with a government or political function.

While the term “Kidnapping” is often used to refer to the abduction of a child by a noncustodial parent, Kidnapping is not the technical charge that typically applies to such a situation in New York. Kidnapping in the First and Second Degrees are extremely serious felony charges that come with the possibility of very lengthy prison sentences. However, there is an affirmative defense for relatives who abduct a family member solely to take control of them or have them in their care. If none of the aggravating circumstances, such as demanding money or injuring the abducted person, apply, a relative should not be charged with Kidnapping but could still face other serious charges, such as Custodial Interference or Unlawful Imprisonment.

Defending Against Kidnapping Charges in New York

Kidnapping cases are complex and require the most thorough investigation, careful legal analysis, and the most thoughtful and sophisticated defense possible. If you are accused of Kidnapping, it can upend your life, humiliate your family, and put a complete stop to your career and employment. You need the experience, knowledge, and advocacy of a criminal defense lawyer, such as Todd Spodek at Spodek Law Group, to be your strongest defense. Spodek Law has challenged allegations of Kidnapping against their clients.

New York Penal Law 135.25: Kidnapping in the First Degree

Kidnapping is one of the most heinous crimes one can commit in the state of New York. When a person restrains and holds another individual in a concealed location without their consent, it is considered kidnapping. In the New York criminal code, there are two degrees of kidnapping: second and first. Kidnapping in the second degree entails the abduction of a person, but if the abduction involves certain additional factors, the charge can be elevated to kidnapping in the first degree, as per New York Penal Law 135.25.

Factors That Raise Charge to Kidnapping in the First Degree as Per New York Penal Law 135.25

Kidnapping in the first degree involves specific additional factors that can elevate a charge of kidnapping in the second degree. These factors include:

• The kidnapper demands a ransom • The person kidnapped dies • The individual abducted is under the age of 16 or deemed incompetent at the time of the abduction, resulting in a first-degree charge • The abducted person is restrained for over 12 hours so that the kidnapper can physically or sexually assault them, commit a felony, terrorize a third person, or interfere with the performance of a governmental or political function

Example of Kidnapping in the First Degree According to New York’s Penal Law 135.25

For instance, a man abducts a minor child from the park with the help of her nanny, knowing that the child’s parents are wealthy. The man then demands payment in the amount of $1 million to return the little girl safely to her parents. As a result of these actions, both the man and the child’s nanny can be charged with and prosecuted for kidnapping in the first degree due to the fact that both were involved in the crime, and a ransom was demanded.

Defenses for Kidnapping in the First Degree

Consent is one of the most crucial defenses for the crime of kidnapping in the first degree. In other words, if the victim agreed to go to a specific location with you, and they knew that you intended to go there, the charges could be dropped to kidnapping in the second degree. According to New York Penal Law 135.30, another defense for a kidnapping charge is that you are related to the individual you abducted, and the purpose behind the kidnapping was to control that person. If you are charged with kidnapping in the first degree, your NYC criminal attorney can argue in court that the victim knew you were going to a certain location and requested to go with you, resulting in the charges against you being reduced to kidnapping in the second degree.

Penalties and Sentencing for Kidnapping in the First Degree

Kidnapping in the second degree is considered a class A-1 felony, and if convicted, you could spend the rest of your life in prison. The minimum sentence for kidnapping in the first degree ranges from 15 to 40 years.

New York Penal Law 135.20: Kidnapping in the Second Degree

Kidnapping in the second degree is one of the most serious criminal offenses in New York and the rest of the country, as per New York Penal Law 135.20. This type of criminal act is defined as the act of kidnapping a person, which could involve tricking them into becoming a hostage, taking them by force, and hiding them from the general public and those who are working to rescue the victim. There is no requirement for ransom for this type of act to be considered kidnapping, nor is there a specific distance a person must travel from their home


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