Kidnapping in Florida
What is Kidnapping?
Florida Statute 787.01 defines kidnapping as forcibly, secretly, or by threat confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person against her or his will and without lawful authority, with intent to: 1. Hold for Random or Reward; 2. Commit or facilitate commission of any felony; 3. Inflict Bodily Harm upon or to terrorize the victim or another person; 4. Interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.
Requires Movement: There must be some movement. For example, putting someone in your car and driving.
First-Degree Felony: Kidnapping is a first degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison.
False Imprisonment? Florida Statute 787.02 defines false imprisonment as forcibly by threat, or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning, or restraining another person without lawful authority and against her or his will.
Third Degree Felony: False Imprisonment is a 3rd degree Felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison
Extreme Sentencing Differences Yet Crimes are Similar:
As you can see Kidnapping is a life felony, punished dramatically more harshly than the simple act of false imprisonment. Yet there appear to be relatively minor differences in the two crimes. Consider two people:
Defendant A: Gets into a woman’s car while she is at stop light, forces her to drive him a block away to a back alleyway, with the intent to threaten her with a weapon. Once they get there he gets out of car and runs off. He can be charged with Kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison.
Defendant B: Gets into a woman’s car while she is at a stop light, takes the keys out of the ignition, threatens her, holds her captive for 15 minutes, and then gets out of her car and runs out. He is guilty of False Imprisonment and can be sentenced up to 5 years in prison.
Similar factually yet punished differently: As you can see there are two very similar crimes yet one is punished by up to life in prison whereas the other individual is only looking at 5 years.
The Definition of Movement:
Case Law is helpful in defining what movement actually is and distinguishing a false imprisonment charge from a kidnapping charge. The difference between kidnapping and false imprisonment can be small. If the law is on your side, and your attorney is able to argue it successfully, it could be the difference between a life sentence and a short stint in the county jail. Make sure you hire the right lawyer if you are charged with a serious crime.