Many Criminal Kidnapping Charges Begin as Domestic Disputes
It’s a little known fact that kidnapping charges most commonly involve two individuals who know each other and are either romantically linked or related. Many stem from an argument or domestic dispute where then one party to a relationship traps the other or takes their child from the other parent outside the terms of their custody arrangement.
A good example of this scenario and how a domestic dispute can quickly escalate into the more serious charge of kidnapping occurred last week in Paterson, NJ. A man hijacked his ex-girlfriend’s car during an argument and took off with her still in the car. Police, responding to a domestic disturbance call of a loud argument, arrived to learn that the man had fled with the woman in the car. An onlooker who witnessed the incident followed the car and gave 9-1-1 dispatchers knowledge of the man’s final location (after he exited the vehicle and fled on foot). At that point, he was arrested and charged with car theft, kidnapping, and violation of a restraining order – all very serious charges.
Kidnapping Charges Under New Jersey Law are Serious
In New Jersey, kidnapping is a first degree criminal offense. There are two different categories of kidnapping that constitute criminal activity:
- The first kind of kidnapping offense is when the purpose of the accused is to hold the kidnapped for a ransom, or as a hostage, or for reward of some sort or as a human shield.
- The second kind of kidnapping offense involves the accused in kidnapping a victim with the purpose of enabling a crime to be committed or to cause injury to the body of the victim or other person, or to cause a person or other person to be terrorized, or to obstruct the function of any government or political work or event.
In the first kidnapping offense, the state would need to prove that the accused person restricted or took away the victim with threatening, forcing or deceiving the victim with the intent to ransom the victim, seek reward or to use the victim as a shield or to take the victim as hostage.
In the second kidnapping offense, the state would need to prove that the accused person took the victim from his or her residence or place of employment or from a considerable distance from where the victim had been found or constrained a person for a considerable amount of time by threatening, forcing or deceiving the victim with the thought to aid in committing any type of criminal activity or of fleeing or to cause bodily harm or with the purpose to terrorize the kidnapped victim or another person or to impede the action of a government or political event or activity.
The Penalties of a Conviction
If convicted of kidnapping, the defendant faces 15 to 30 years in prison. The prison sentence will rise from twenty-five years of imprisonment up to life imprisonment for the defendant occurs when the person kidnapped is younger than 16 years of age and when the person kidnapped was assaulted or contacted sexually or forced into pornography or when the accused brings or sells the kidnapped victim for economic gain.
Try and Keep Your Cool
During an argument, it is often very easy for the parties involved to become agitated and passionate about their point. This can be especially true when there is a romantic relationship or custody of a child involved. Remember, the penalties associated with a conviction of kidnapping can be very serious – especially if the party involved is under the age of 16. Try and walk away from the argument before it escalates and revisit the issue at a later time with a cooler head through the appropriate channels. If there is a dispute over the custody of a child, do not take actions into your own hands, contact your custody attorney. There are legal options available to you if you think that your child may be in danger or being neglected. If you have been charged with the crime of kidnapping stemming from a domestic or custody dispute, I invite you to The Law Offices of Joseph Lombardo. Depending on the circumstances, there are defenses available to you. Joseph Lombardo is an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney who has been representing individuals in criminal defense and family law and custody matters in Southern New Jersey since 1993. Contact Mr. Lombardo today at (609) 445-4300 for a free, initial consultation. He will work to challenge the circumstances surrounding your arrest and to have the charges against you dismissed or reduced.