When most people think of kidnapping, they picture something they’ve seen in the movies. A child predator or sex trafficker scoops up a child and whisks them away in a windowless van — or, maybe someone takes the child or other loved one of a wealthy person and holds them for ransom.
Certainly, these are examples of kidnapping – as well as other serious crimes. However, under New Jersey law (and the laws of other states), kidnapping doesn’t have to involve something that extreme. In New Jersey, someone can be charged with kidnapping “if he unlawfully removes another from the place where he is found or if he unlawfully confines another with the purpose of holding that person for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage.”
This can include parental kidnapping, using someone else to evade arrest, taking someone solely “to terrorize the victim or another” or even to “interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.”
Penalties can vary significantly – but typically involve years behind bars
As with most serious crimes, there is more than one degree. For example, if a kidnapper voluntarily releases a person unharmed in a safe place prior to their arrest, they will likely be charged with second-degree kidnapping. However, that can still get you a decade behind bars. First-degree kidnapping can get you 30 years in prison.
As noted, other crimes or “aggravating circumstances” often accompany kidnapping. These can add many more years to a sentence.
If you or a loved one is facing kidnapping charges, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance. There may be extenuating circumstances that can lessen the consequences. It’s important to explore all of your defense options to seek the best possible outcome.