When most people think of kidnapping, they picture terrifying cases like that of Elizabeth Smart, in which a child disappears into the night, carried off by an unknown stranger. In reality, most kidnapping cases are not so horrifying, though they are legally complicated. Although it is true that kidnapping at the hands of a stranger does happen, it’s more often the case that when a couple is undergoing an acrimonious divorce, one parent will abscond with the children against court orders, or before an agreement can be reached.
If you have been charged with kidnapping another person in Minnesota, it is important that you understand the laws and penalties of this crime.
According to Minnesota state law, a person is guilty of kidnapping if they confine or move someone without that person’s consent. A charge of kidnapping is also incurred if the person moves a minor without the consent of the minor’s legal guardian in order to:
• Hold the minor as a hostage, shield, or to extract ransom
• Prepare for any felony or escape in which having a minor will be useful
• Harm the person in any way
• Make the minor engage in involuntary servitude
In order for the crime to qualify as kidnapping, there is an additional element that must be proven: intent to confine for the purpose of committing an additional felony. If this cannot be proven, the crime is considered abduction.
If the minor is released without injury, the person is subject to a fine of up to $35,000, and/or up to 20 years in prison. If the minor is not released in safe circumstances, or if the minor has suffered harm, the person is subject to a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to 40 years in prison.
If you are a parent who is afraid that the other parent may abscond with your children, you have recourses. You can petition the court to issue an emergency custody order, which may include an order that the other parent may not take the children out of the state.
If you have been charged with kidnapping in Minnesota at the state or federal level, contact an experienced Minneapolis criminal defense attorney at Brockton D. Hunter to learn more about your situation and to obtain reliable legal representation.