When we hear the word “kidnapping”, many of us think of an abduction off the street or of someone being tied-up and stuffed in the trunk of a car. While those scenarios certainly meet the definition of kidnapping, most kidnapping charges in Massachusetts come from less serious scenarios. A person can be charged with kidnapping if it is alleged that they simply held another person against that other person’s will.
In Massachusetts, the crime of kidnapping (G.L.c. 265, section 26) is defined as follows:
“Whoever, without lawful authority, forcibly or secretly confines or imprisons another person within this commonwealth against his will, or forcibly carries or sends such person out of this commonwealth, or forcibly seizes and confines or inveigles or kidnaps another person, with intent either to cause him to be secretly confined or imprisoned in this commonwealth against his will, or to cause him to be sent out of this commonwealth against his will or in any way held to service against his will….”
The definition of kidnapping allows for three separate theories under which a person may be charged. In each theory it must be proven that the defendant acted “without lawful authority.” They are:
1) The defendant “confining” or “imprisoning” another person within Massachusetts, against that person’s will;
2) The defendant “forcibly” carrying or sending another person outside of Massachusetts;
3) The defendant forcibly “seizing” or “inveigling” another person and the defendant causing the person to be confined in Massachusetts or sent out of Massachusetts.
Confining/Imprisoning – Any restraint of a person’s liberty is a confinement or an imprisonment
Forcibly – Carried out through physical contact or harm or the threat of physical contact or harm
Inveigling – To lure, entice, or lead astray by false pretenses.
Against his/her will – the victim did not consent to be seized, confined, imprisoned, carried, sent or inveigled by the defendant. A person’s submitting because of fear is not consent.
Not surprisingly, the potential punishment for being convicted of kidnapping can be severe.
A conviction for kidnapping carries the possibility of up to 10 years in state prison or 2.5 years in a house of correction (county jail).
A conviction for kidnapping with a gun or dangerous weapon carries the penalty of not less than 10 years in state prison or not more than 2.5 years in a house of correction.
A conviction for kidnapping with a gun or dangerous weapon with the intent to extort money or other valuable thing carries the possibility of life in prison but not less than 20 years in state prison.
A conviction for kidnapping while armed with a dangerous weapon and inflicts serious bodily injury or sexually assaults the victim such person carries the penalty of not less than 25 years in state prison.
A conviction for kidnapping a child (under 16) carries the penalty of not less than 15 years in state prison, and the requirement of registering as a sex offender.
Note: these penalties do not apply to parental kidnapping
KIDNAPPING CHARGES OCCUR MOST REGULARLY …
In domestic disputes.
It is not uncommon for the police to charge a person with kidnapping if the victim tells the police that he/she was forced to remain in one particular place by a spouse, boy/girlfriend, or family member.
The crime of kidnapping is regularly charged along with Assault and Battery and Witness Intimidation.
These cases can be won. Oftentimes the only evidence of the kidnapping is the testimony of the victim. In cases where the victim and defendant are married, the victim’s invocation of the marital privilege may result in there being no remaining evidence, which could result in the dismissal of the case. Also, in cases where the victim and defendant maintain a relationship after the charge the prosecutors have difficulty in convincing the victim to testify.
Listed below is one particular scenario in which Attorney Henry Fasoldt succeeded in having the charge dismissed.
Case: The defendant and victim were in a dating relationship. After a long night of arguing, the victim, who was very angry, went to the police and said that her boyfriend punched her, took her phone, and held her against her will. The boyfriend was charged with Assault and Battery, Witness Intimidation, and Kidnapping. After several discussions with the prosecutors, they agreed that they would dismiss the Kidnapping and Witness Intimidation if the defendant agreed to plead guilty to Assault and Battery.
WHAT TO DO
If you or a loved one has been charged with kidnapping, call Kidnapping attorney Henry Fasoldt.