What is Aggravated Kidnapping?

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingSep 13, 2019

This has to do with kidnapping for purposes of ransom or to commit some other grave crime like rape, robbery, or extortion.  So, this is one of the more severe crimes that an individual commits. Aggravated kidnapping is defined Under California Penal Code 209 PC.

If convicted, you could end up serving life in prison. Other serious kidnapping charges are obviously when the victim is young, like under fourteen.  That will add extra time to the back of somebody's sentence. Kidnapping is a grave, violent crime, and it can be done in several different ways. 

We see a lot of kidnappings where extortion is involved, where someone's trying to get some money by kidnapping a victim, and then the prosecutors file a Section 209 against them, and a person is looking at life in prison.

Aggravated Kidnapping Charges - Penal Code 209 PC

That gives the prosecutors a lot of bargaining power when they deal with your attorney because if you go to trial and lose, you put yourself in a position where you may never get out of prison again.  With that backdrop against you, the prosecutors can come at you and try to get a high sentence. You must contact a criminal attorney with experience with these types of offenses, who knows how to handle them and knows what defenses might be available to you.

Whenever you're talking about kidnapping, one defense is that the person came willingly because for it to be any kidnapping, the person will have to be taken and moved against their will. It's going to have to be a substantial distance.  It can't just be a little movement.

If the person agrees to go and consents to go and follows the person, that makes the kidnapping argument a lot more challenging to prove because there has to be some movement, threat, or violence.  Of course, there are circumstances where somebody tells them if they don't do what I ask them to do, I'm going to shoot them, and I have a gun and show them.

They put the gun away, and the person moves with them willingly.  That type of activity would be a situation where the prosecutors would argue that the person was moving against their will because they were fearful that they would be shot. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will examine this topic below. 

What Are the Common Mistakes?

If you or a loved one is charged with the crime of kidnapping, either California Penal Code Section 207 or 209, you want to hire an attorney right away.  One of the common mistakes people make is not taking the situation seriously – not getting their criminal defense attorney right away, burying their heads, and just hoping for the best.  That's not going to cut it when you or a loved one is charged with kidnapping.

Another thing people do, which I think is a mistake, is give up.  A lot of times, kidnapping cases, in particular, are filed improperly.  This means the prosecutors cannot meet all of the elements of the crime.  Sometimes, it's because the prosecutors file it the wrong way, or other times, it's because the police don't understand what is necessary to convict someone for kidnapping.

First, there must be some substantial movement of the alleged victim.  So, you will want to make them move from point A to point B.  That's either done in a car or, for example, during a robbery, victims can be forced a certain distance, but it has to be a substantial distance, not just a very short distance. 

Another thing is not all cases amount to a kidnapping, even though the elements might be there.  Suppose the person has no criminal record, and there's an explanation for precisely what's going on.

In that case, kidnapping may not be the proper charge, especially a Penal Code Section 209 kidnapping, because then the person would be looking at facing life in prison, and a lot of times, that's simply not fair.  Unfortunately, sometimes the prosecutors will over-file these cases to use that over-filing as leverage against a criminal defendant to get them to take the deal they want, for fear that if they take the case to trial, they could potentially end up with life in prison.

Review of Circumstances of Kidnapping Case

So, you have to look at the overall circumstances of kidnapping cases.  I see many of these cases over-filed by the District Attorney's Office, and in that scenario, there are two ways to handle it.  One is to point out the problems with the case to the assigned prosecutor. Then, that prosecutor usually has to go to their supervisor to discuss getting rid of the kidnapping charge, and if the person did some crime to insert another head in there, that's not quite as serious.

The other way to get rid of a much more dangerous kidnapping charge is to fight the case at trial.  If the person is found not guilty of the kidnapping charge, it's gone.  If the person is found guilty of the kidnapping charge — and it's an aggravated kidnapping under Penal Code Section 209 — the person could be looking at life in prison.  So, you run a pretty significant risk when fighting kidnapping charges.

So, you don't want to fight a kidnapping charge unless you've got a good angle to win the case.  What I do is I have you come in, and we sit down and go over all of the details and facts.  I ask you to be honest because you tell me a story where you only tell your version of events.

Please don't leave out crucial facts that you don't like cause they make you look bad. I will need something else because what will end up happening is that I will get all the paperwork.  I'll speak to the prosecutor.  I will hear the witnesses testify, and now, suddenly, I'm going to see the extra information you didn't give me, which will put us in a bad situation.

We need to know that extra information in a kidnapping case from the beginning to defuse some of that.  Maybe there are some defenses to it, but if you don't tell me about it and it's not readily apparent, I won't find out about it until I get into the case, start reviewing it, and make some moves on your behalf.

So, honestly, I think it is the best policy when it comes to a kidnapping case, and giving me the correct information will put you in a much stronger position to defend yourself — either win the case if you've got an excellent defensible chance or do some damage control and mitigate it down to something a lot less severe than a kidnapping case.