Florida is notorious for its harsh and overbroad criminal laws. And along with those laws, we have law enforcement who interpret the law as broadly as possible to arrest and convict as many people as they can. We often hear about scary criminal charges on the news or online but rarely do lay people take the time to actually learn about the ins and outs of the law. Taking some time to do that often results in shock and surprise at how vague criminal laws actually are.
Because of the vague nature of many of Florida’s criminal laws, it is never advisable to try to handle your case without the aid of a competent St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney. Laws are written by our elected officials in a way that is difficult for a lay person to understand. This is not done on accident. Criminal laws are, in part, designed to confuse and disorient the ordinary person in order to make them seem more complex than they actually are to help the prosecution gain leverage against often poor, less educated defendants.
One of those vague crimes is Kidnapping. When you hear the term kidnapping, the typical movie tropes tend to pop into one’s head. A child of a millionaire is kidnapped by thugs or terrorists and then held for ransom. The police negotiate their release or send a special forces group to recover the kidnapped person. So much of our knowledge and thoughts about criminal law is based on popular culture, movies and TV, that we often fail to realize that that version of the criminal law is not really based in reality. In truth, the law is much simpler and prone to vague interpretation and abuse.Elements of Kidnapping
Pursuant to Florida Statute 787.01, kidnapping is defined as “forcibly, secretly, or by threat confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person against her or his will and without lawful authority, with intent to: hold for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage, commit or facilitate commission of any felony, inflict bodily harm upon or to terrorize the victim or another person, or interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.” As one can see by looking at the plain language of the statute, there are many circumstances where a much less serious crime could be interpreted as a kidnapping.
For example, imagine a circumstance where a domestic violence situation is unfurling. An upset spouse, in the middle of the argument or violence tries to leave the home and the other spouse holds the door shut. While this is certainly not a positive situation by any means, it is also not the situation where most of us would think of “kidnapping.” However, under the wording of the statute, this type of circumstance can be charged as kidnapping and it often is. If you have found yourself in a similar situation, you should consider contacting a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer right away.
The reason why it is so concerning that less serious criminal situations can end up as kidnapping charges is because of the serious criminal penalties associated with kidnapping. Whereas a domestic violence situation might normally result in misdemeanor charges, a kidnapping conviction is far more serious. Kidnapping is a first degree felony punishable by up to thirty years in prison. Additionally, if the victim of a kidnapping is a child under the age of 13, you can be charged with a life felony.Speak With Our Lawyers Today
The lawyers at Hanlon Law have the skills and experience necessary to defend our clients facing criminal charges both minor and serious. A skilled St. Petersburg criminal lawyer can often be the difference between dismissed charges or serious prison time. We are here to help you and your loved ones. Call us today at (727) 897-5413.