Massachusetts law defines kidnapping as the unlawful confinement or imprisonment of another individual against their will. This applies to people of all ages. Kidnapping charges do not require that the perpetrator caused physical injury to the victim.
The prosecution must establish the following elements to convict someone of kidnapping:
- The defendant did not have the legal authority to control the victim’s whereabouts
- The defendant used force or manipulation to imprison the victim
- The defendant held the victim against their will
A judge must prove additional elements in the case of an aggravated kidnapping such as one using firearms, money extortion, or involving sexual assault.
What Are the Penalties for a Simple Kidnapping?
A conviction of a “basic” kidnapping that involved the seizing, confining, or carrying out of the state of someone else against their will, usually results in up to 10 years in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.
Kidnapping is a felony charge, which means that a conviction remains on your criminal record for the rest of your life. This can impact your professional opportunities and your ability to rent or obtain certain insurance or credits. It also affects your personal life and can interfere with your parental rights when it comes to child custody.
What Additional Penalties Exist for Aggravated Kidnapping in Massachusetts?
If a judge convicts you of kidnapping with aggravating factors, your penalties increase accordingly, especially the duration of your prison sentence.
Under Massachusetts law, penalties for the following types of kidnapping are:
- Kidnapping with the intent to extort money: up to a lifetime prison sentence
- Kidnapping while carrying a firearm: at least 10 years in state prison
- Kidnapping while carrying a firearm with the intent to extort money or other assets: at least 20 years in state prison and up to a lifelong sentence
- Kidnapping while carrying a dangerous weapon and causing severe bodily harm or sexual assault: at least 25 years in state prison and up to a lifelong sentence
- Kidnapping a child under 16 years old: up to 15 years in state prison and mandatory registration as a sex offender
What About Parental Kidnapping?
If the non-custodial parent kidnaps their child, they violate the custody and visitation court order and can face serious criminal charges. Even if they believe doing so can help remove their child from an abusive custodial parent, they nevertheless face a potential felony conviction. If you are concerned about your child’s safety, you should always speak with a lawyer and file a formal petition to modify the custody ruling.
Should a judge convict you of parental kidnapping, you can face up to one year in prison, and up to $1,000 in fines. If you take your child out of the state or if you also violate a restraining order, the jail sentence and fines are more severe.
The Federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act or international child protection treaties can also affect your case if you take your kidnapped child out of state or even to a different country.
Why You Should Hire a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney As Soon As Possible
If you are facing kidnapping accusations in Massachusetts, you should hire a criminal defense attorney right away. They can assess your situation and educate you on the potential penalties and other consequences those charges involve. Common defense strategies against kidnapping accusations include proving that the alleged victim gave you consent or that you had a lack of intent.
By conducting their own investigation and advocating for your rights throughout the legal process, your lawyer can help secure a positive outcome. Your attorney usually aims to get a charge dismissal but if this is not possible, they can help you enter a plea bargain with the judge.
Are you facing kidnapping charges in Boston or its surrounding areas? Call Brad Bailey Law today at (617) 500-0252 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.