What Is Aggravated Kidnapping in Texas?
If the police have accused you of aggravated kidnapping, you might ask yourself what that charge means. More importantly, how can a conviction for aggravated kidnapping potentially change your life? We’re here to cut through the legal jargon and provide you with the answers you need.
In this blog post, our Collin County defense lawyers discuss the legal definition of aggravated kidnapping in Texas, the penalties associated with this crime, some potential defense strategies, and how our attorneys can help with your case. Our intention isn’t to alarm or worry you further; it’s to offer a helping hand during a tough time. Let’s get started.
Texas Definition of Aggravated Kidnapping
The Texas Penal Code says someone commits the crime of aggravated kidnapping when they knowingly or intentionally abduct another person with the intent to commit any of the following acts:
- Holding the kidnapped party for ransom
- Using the kidnapped party as a hostage or shield
- Using the kidnapped party to commit a felony or to flee after attempting or committing a felony
- Terrorizing the kidnapped party or someone else
- Interfering with a governmental or political function
Furthermore, the Penal Code says anyone who uses or displays a deadly weapon while abducting another person has committed the crime of aggravated kidnapping.
Penalties for Aggravated Kidnapping in Texas
In most instances, aggravated is a first-degree felony in Texas. Per the state Penal Code, the penalties for a first-degree felony include a minimum of 5 years in prison, though first-degree felonies can also lead to a life sentence. Additionally, the state can impose a maximum fine of $10,000 for a first-degree felony.
There is one situation in which aggravated kidnapping is a second-degree felony. The Penal Code says that if the case goes to trial and the defendant is convicted, they can “raise the issue” of whether they voluntarily let the victim go to a safe place during the punishment phase. If the evidence shows that’s what happened, then the offense is a second-degree felony. The standard penalties for a second-degree felony are between 2 and 20 years in prison plus a maximum fine of $10,000.
While these are the legal penalties for aggravated kidnapping, a felony conviction can have other catastrophic effects on your life, such as:
- Loss of Your Rights: In many states, including Texas, a felony conviction can lead to a loss of certain civil rights. For example, convicted felons often lose their right to vote, their right to own or possess a firearm, and their ability to hold public office or serve on a jury.
- Difficulty Finding Employment: A felony conviction will appear on background checks, making it much harder to find a job. Many employers are wary of hiring felons, particularly in education, healthcare, and law enforcement. The impact on your career can be significant and long-lasting.
- Housing Challenges: Many landlords perform background checks on potential tenants, and a felony conviction can make it more difficult to secure housing. Public housing agencies also have the right to deny housing to individuals based on their criminal history.
- Professional Licenses: Certain professional licenses are sometimes denied or revoked due to a felony conviction. This can significantly limit job opportunities and career growth.
Defense Strategies for Aggravated Kidnapping Charge
Every criminal case is unique and requires a tailored defense strategy. However, a few commonly used defenses in cases involving aggravated kidnapping charges exist. It’s important to remember that the following are potential defenses, and their effectiveness can vary depending on the case’s specifics.
- Lack of Intent: The prosecution must prove that the defendant intentionally or knowingly abducted another person. If the defense can show that there was no such intent, the prosecution might drop or dismiss the charges.
- Consent: This defense applies if the person allegedly kidnapped consented to the actions. Of course, consent can be a complex issue, especially if the person allegedly kidnapped is a minor or otherwise unable to give valid consent.
- Insufficient Evidence: If there isn’t enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person committed aggravated kidnapping, this could be a valid defense. It’s the prosecutor’s job to present this evidence; if they can’t, they might drop the charges, or a jury might find the defendant not guilty.
- Duress or Necessity: This defense applies if the defendant can prove they had a reasonable belief that their actions were necessary to avoid imminent harm. In other words, circumstances forced the defendant to commit the act.
- Mistaken Identity: If the defendant can present evidence to suggest the police mistakenly identified them as the perpetrator, the prosecution could potentially dismiss the charges.
- Violation of Rights: If the police or prosecutors violated the defendant’s rights during the arrest or investigation, such as through an illegal search, the case could be dismissed, or evidence could be suppressed.
Remember, these are just potential defenses. The best way to determine the right defense strategy for your situation is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our lawyers can provide guidance and advice tailored to your circumstances. Call us today at (972) 369-0577 for a free consultation, or you can reach us online.