Kidnapping or abduction of a person of any age is a felony in Virginia. However, before the Commonwealth can convict you of a crime, it must prove that you violated the specific elements of a Virginia statute and allow you to defend yourself.
How Abduction and Kidnapping are Defined in Virginia
Abduction and kidnapping mean the same thing according to Virginia Code § 18.2-47. This section of Virginia law makes it a felony to:
- Use force, intimidation, or deception without legal justification
- To seize, take, transport, or detain another person
- With the intention to deprive the other person of personal liberty, to withhold or hide that person from any other person, authority, or institution lawfully entitled to their charge, or to subject that person to forced labor
The law defines intimidation to include “destroying, concealing, confiscating, withholding, or threatening to withhold a passport, immigration document, or other governmental identification or threatening to report another as being illegally present in the United States.”
Possible Penalties for Abduction or Kidnapping
The potential penalties for abduction or kidnapping depend on the specific crime committed.
Generally, abduction is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail, a $2,500 fine, or both jail time and a fine. However, different laws and penalties apply to:
- Parents who abduct their own children. If a parent abducts their child and it is punishable by contempt of court in a pending proceeding, then the parent may be convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor if the parent remains in Virginia with the child. A Class 1 misdemeanor sentence includes up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both jail time and a fine. Additionally, the parent may be held in contempt of court. If the parent leaves Virginia with the child, then the parent may be charged with a Class 6 felony and face up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, a fine and jail time, and legal consequences for being in contempt of court.
- People accused of abduction with the intent to extort money or for immoral purposes. This section of the law includes the abduction of any person of any age with the intent to extort money or pecuniary benefit. It also includes the abduction of any person of any age with intent to defile that person or for purposes of prostitution. Further, the law prohibits the abduction of any child under 16 years of age for purposes of prostitution or concubinage and the abduction of any minor person for the purpose of manufacturing child pornography. A conviction for any of these crimes is a Class 2 felony punishable by 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. If the crime involves any of these things, with the exception of financial extortion, and the prison sentence is for less than life imprisonment, then the judge shall impose a suspended sentence of at least 40 years in addition to the active sentence imposed. The suspended sentence shall remain in effect for the rest of the defendant’s lifetime unless revoked by the court.
The penalties described above will change your life if they are imposed. However, your arrest does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted and sentenced.
Now Is the Time to Defend Yourself If You’re Charged With Abduction or Kidnapping
You have the right to defend yourself with the help of an experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyer. Some of the possible defenses in a Virginia abduction case include:
- Law enforcement acting in official capacity. Virginia law specifically exempts law enforcement officers in the performance of their job duties from abduction crimes.
Consent. You cannot kidnap someone if you had that person’s consent.
- Duress. If someone else forced you to abduct someone else, then you acted under duress.
- Mistakes in the Commonwealth’s case. The prosecutor must prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted of abduction.
Learn more about defending yourself against kidnapping or abduction charges by contacting Greenspun Shapiro PC. We can begin protecting your legal rights now and make sure that your case is thoroughly investigated and defended. Call us or complete our contact form today to learn more.