What Is Kidnapping In Florida?

May 31, 2024 Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

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In Florida, kidnapping can be charged as a first-degree felony with up to a life sentence. The definition of kidnapping under Florida law is using force, threats of force, or acting secretly to imprison, abduct, or confine someone against their will, without lawful authority. This is done with the intent to:

  • Hold the person for ransom or reward
  • Use the person as a shield or hostage
  • Commit or facilitate a felony
  • Inflict bodily harm or terrorize the victim or someone else
  • Interfere with a governmental or political function

If found guilty of kidnapping, a defendant may face up to life in prison. This page will detail the elements of kidnapping in Florida, potential punishments someone accused of kidnapping may face for the offense, as well as defenses to kidnapping charges.

Elements of Kidnapping in Florida

To prove three elements of kidnapping, the State must establish:

  1. The defendant must have confined, abducted, restrained or imprisoned the victim against their will
  2. The defendant did not have lawful authority to do so

To satisfy the third element of kidnapping, the State must establish that the defendant acted with the intent to:

  • Hold the victim for a ransom or reward of some sort
  • Did so to commit or facilitate the commission of a felony
  • Inflict bodily harm on or terrorize the victim
  • Interfere with a governmental or political function

Kidnapping under Florida law is punishable by up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine. For any kidnapping conviction, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 4 years in prison.

Important: A parent is not exempt from kidnapping laws if they kidnap their own child.

In certain circumstances, charges of kidnapping with aggravating circumstances may be pursued. This can result in an enhanced sentence. In addition to satisfying the three elements of standard kidnapping, an aggravated kidnapping occurs when: 

  •  At the time of the kidnapping, the victim was under 13 years of age and;
  • Defendant committed aggravated child abuse, sexual battery on the child, a lewd or lascivious offense, forcing the child to partake in prostitution or trafficking, or;
  • The child either had a mental defect or was mentally incapacitated

Aggravated kidnapping is a life felony, punishable by up to life in prison.

Note: Confinement of a child under the age of 13 is against the child’s will if such confinement is without the consent of the child’s parent or legal guardian.

Additionally, in the course of the kidnapping, the defendant committed upon any victim:

This can result in a significant sentencing enhancement of up to life in prison.

Defenses to Kidnapping

Defenses to kidnapping:

  1. If someone forced the defendant to commit the kidnapping under coercion, compulsion, or duress.
  2. If the defendant reasonably believed their actions were necessary to prevent the alleged victim from being seriously injured.
  3. The alleged victim consented to the kidnapping.
  4. False allegations: The defendant did not commit the crime and was falsely alleged to have done so or been otherwise involved.
  5. No criminal intent: If the defendant did not have intent to commit the kidnapping, this may be used as a defense, given that intent is required as one of the crime’s elements.
  6. Mistaken identity: A defendant may argue they were misidentified as the kidnapper.
  7. Lack of evidence: The State does not have sufficient evidence to prove the defendant guilty of the offense.

Kidnapping Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Being arrested for kidnapping in Florida can be extremely stressful. Being charged and “formally charged” by information in Tallahassee, Leon County, Wakulla County, Jefferson County, Gadsden County, Quincy, Crawfordville, Florida State University, Tallahassee Community College, or Florida A&M University can be life changing.  Given the possibility of a lengthy jail or prison sentence and hefty financial penalties, it is important to contact an aggressive, trusted and experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Don Pumphrey, Jr. and the attorneys at Pumphrey Law have decades of experience fighting on behalf of clients and winning. Call Pumphrey Law at (850) 681-7777 to learn more about what we can do for you. Our lawyers will be happy to provide you with a free consultation.

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