Kidnapping charges are among the most serious charges you can face in the state of New Jersey. Considered a violent crime, this charge carries the potential for long prison sentences and loss of many of your civil rights due to a felony conviction. Kidnapping typically occurs when a person takes a person from one place to another against his or her will. The reasons behind the kidnapping, or the circumstances of the charge, can change the nature of your case.
No matter the circumstances you face, an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney can defend your kidnapping charges and protect your constitutional rights. You do not have to face this difficult process alone.
New Jersey Kidnapping Defense Attorney
With many years of experience working in different roles in the New Jersey justice system, Joseph Lento is a uniquely qualified New Jersey criminal defense attorney with a comprehensive knowledge of how the criminal justice system works, from start to finish.
If you have been charged with kidnapping in New Jersey and need a comprehensive, customized defense, contact the attorneys at Lento Law Firm. Joseph Lento built his practice on the ideals of customer service and justice and he will fight for your rights and freedom. Call (215) 535-5353 today to schedule your free consultation and discover what Joseph Lento can do to clear your name.
Kidnapping Charges in New Jersey
Under New Jersey law at N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1(2)c, a person is guilty of kidnapping under different circumstances. Under the first, that person is guilty of 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.
A person can also be guilty of kidnapping "if he unlawfully removes another from his place of residence or business, or a substantial distance from the vicinity where he is found, or if he unlawfully confines another for a substantial period, with any of the following purposes:
(1) To facilitate the commission of any crime or flight thereafter;
(2) To inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another;
(3) To interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function; or
(4) To permanently deprive a parent, guardian, or other lawful custodian of custody of the victim."
These different scenarios, while all considered "kidnapping," show the different kinds of circumstances the New Jersey legislature has considered in defining this charge. Depending on the nature of your charges, and the circumstances of the alleged kidnapping, the penalty ranges for a conviction can differ.
"Unlawful Removal or Confinement"
"A removal or confinement is unlawful within the meaning of this section ... if it is accomplished by force, threat, or deception, or, in the case of a person who is under the age of 14 or is incompetent, if it is accomplished without the consent of a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for general supervision of his welfare."
Penalties for Kidnapping in New Jersey
New Jersey law sets kidnapping as a first-degree felony in almost every case. A first-degree felony is one of the most serious types of charges you can face in this state. The penalty ranges are incredibly high and can result in very long prison sentences.
In certain cases, a kidnapping charge is a second-degree felony when the perpetrator releases the victim in a safe place and unharmed before the accused kidnapper is arrested. This encourages the safe release of kidnapped individuals.
The following potential penalties may apply in your kidnapping case:
- 15 to 30 years of imprisonment if the alleged victim is age 16 or over (first-degree offense)
- 5 to 10 years of imprisonment if the alleged victim is age 16 or over (second-degree offense)
- 25 years to life, with or without the possibility of parole after serving those 25 years, when certain other conditions apply or when the alleged victim is under the age of 16
As you can see, a large portion of your life will be spent behind bars if convicted of this crime. It is important to put up a strong defense to protect yourself.
How to Defend Your Case
Certain defenses can be used to help protect your rights from a kidnapping charge.
Release in Safe Place Unharmed
If you are guilty of the offense but released the person unharmed and in a safe place, your charges can be reduced to a second-degree felony.
Necessary to Protect the Alleged Victim
It is an affirmative defense that you took the person from one place to another to "preserve the victim from imminent danger to his welfare." When you are doing it to protect someone, this can be a defense. However, if you do not notify the police, prosecutor, or child services within a reasonable time not to exceed 24 hours, this will not be an available defense.
Consent by Parent or Authorized Agency
If you reasonably believed that the "taking or detaining of the victim was consented to by a parent, or by an authorized State agency" you can present this as a defense. The belief must be reasonable, and you will have to prove this.
Parent Fleeing from Another Parent
It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution "that a parent having the right of custody reasonably believed he was fleeing from imminent physical danger from the other parent, provided that the parent having custody, as soon as reasonably practicable:
(1) Gives notice of the victim's location to the police department of the municipality where the victim resided, the office of the county prosecutor in the county where the victim resided, or the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families; or
(2) Commences an action affecting custody in an appropriate court."
Consult a New Jersey Kidnapping Defense Attorney
If you or someone you care about faces a kidnapping charge in New Jersey, an experienced New Jersey defense attorney can fight for your rights. Joseph D. Lento has the years of experience necessary to protect your rights.
Call (888) 535-3686 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation of your case.