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Kidnapping Laws (PC 207.209) in California - IE-Criminal Defense

I. California Penal Code 207: Kidnapping

Legal Definition: Every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, steals or takes, or holds, detains, or arrests any person in this state, and carries the person into another country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping. (PC 207(a))

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 207, the prosecution must prove the following:

  1. You took, held, or detained another person by using force or by instilling reasonable fear;
  2. Using that force or fear, you moved the other person or made the other person move a substantial distance;
  3. The other person did not consent to the movement; AND
  4. You did not actually and reasonably believe that the other person consented to the movement.

II. What does this mean?

In order to consent, a person must act freely and voluntarily and know the nature of the act, and consent can be withdrawn. Substantial distance means more than a slight or trivial distance, and all circumstances must be considered to determine if this has occurred. A victim must be alive when kidnapped. 

An implicit threat of arrest satisfies the force or fear element of section 207(a) if your conduct or statements cause the victim to believe that unless the victim accompanies the defendant the victim will be forced to do so, and the victim’s belief is objectively reasonable.

III. Penalties

Kidnapping is a straight felony, no matter what subsection you are charged with. If you are convicted under this section, you could be sentenced to upwards of three, five, or eight years in State Prison. You would be required to serve 80% of this time in State Prison. All kidnapping charges under PC 207 or PC 209, are Strike offenses in California.

IV. Other Relevant Kidnapping Charges

1. PC 207(b) 

Legal Definition: Kidnapping elements are the same here, except the alleged victim is 14 years old or younger. 

Penalties: This is a straight felony, where you could be sentenced to upwards of five, eight, or eleven years in State Prison. You would be required to serve 80% of this time in State Prison. All kidnapping charges under PC 207 or PC 209, are Strike offenses in California. 

2. PC 209(b)(1)

Legal Definition: Kidnapping during the commission of a Robbery or a Sex Offense.

Penalties: If convicted, you could be sentenced to upwards of 25 years to life in State Prison. You would be required to serve 80% of this time in State Prison. All kidnapping charges under PC 207 or PC 209, are Strike offenses in California. 

V. Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Self-Defense
  4. Violation of your Rights

Generally, in most circumstances, a person does not consent to be kidnapped, albeit under some extenuating circumstances. However, kidnapping, as defined above, is not the normal kind of kidnapping that we see on television and in movies. Generally, it’s thought to involve duct tape, threats of violence, and ransom notes. However, “slight movement” is all that is required under California law to vitiate a kidnapping charge. This is helpful because it is easily able to fight a charge of Kidnapping by showing you had consent for this slight movement. Force, as required here, is much less than what many would associate with Kidnapping, as well.

VI. Call Today

Kidnapping is a serious case, requiring State Prison in most circumstances as it is charged. In addition, if the kidnapping happens during a robbery or a sex offense, then you could be looking at the rest of your life behind bars. These serious charges need an aggressive attorney who has defended many of these cases successfully. It may be your only chance at freedom. Our PC 207 Ontario attorney has successfully defended numerous cases involving Kidnapping or False Imprisonment under PC 207. The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.

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