On its face, the crime of Kidnapping in New York is one of the most straightforward offenses and statutes in the New York State Penal Law. However, Kidnapping offenses are typically some of the most complex, intricate and difficult cases throughout the New York Courts. This is largely due to the fact that the particular circumstances and details of an incident that leads to a criminal Kidnapping charge are almost always incredibly unusual, and wrapped up with all kinds of nuance and history between the various parties involved. Whether it's a relative in Brooklyn is taking a child away from the parents due to a sincere belief that the child is being subjected to some kind of harm or abuse, an embittered friend and business partner in Queens is trying to compel the payment of money from another person, or a home robbery in Westchester County where the homeowners unknowingly enter the home and interrupt the ongoing crime, the facts are almost never as straightforward as the language of the statute might lead you to believe. What may be considered “typical” or “traditional” Kidnapping is just a tiny fraction of the Kidnapping cases in New York that criminal defense attorneys are confronted with on behalf of their respective clients.Second Degree Kidnapping: New York Penal Law 135.20
Kidnapping in the Second Degree, New York Penal Law 135.20, is a B Felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison, whether or not you have a prior criminal record. Assuming this is your first offense, the law mandates a sentence of no less than five years upon conviction. A person is guilty of Kidnapping in the Second Degree when he “abducts another person.” That's the extent of the statute. Under PL 135.00, “abduct” means to “restrain a person with intent to prevent his liberation by either (a) secreting or holding him in a place where he is not likely to be found, or (b) using or threatening to use deadly physical force.” There is no requirement of any kind of financial motivation, or any particular motive whatsoever. This is an extremely broad statute that can cover all kinds of circumstances.First Degree Kidnapping: New York Penal Law 135.25
Kidnapping in the First Degree, New York Penal Law 135.25, essentially amounts to the broad crime of Kidnapping in the Second Degree with one of a few aggravating factors, which also serve to narrow the kinds of circumstances where this crime is charged by police departments and District Attorneys. Kidnapping in the First Degree is an A-I Felony punishable by life in prison. A person can be charged with Kidnapping in the First Degree when they commit the crime of Kidnapping in the Second Degree in that they abduct a person, and either: when their intent is the hold the person for ransom or compel someone to do or not do something (what might be called “traditional” Kidnapping); when the victim is held for more than 12 hours with intent to inflict injury on them, sexually abuse them, advance some other felony, or terrorizes the victim or another person, or interfere with a government or political function; or when the person abducted dies. Just a snapshot of what is arguably one of the most serious offenses in the New York Penal Law, to better understand PL 135.25 it is critical to consult with your criminal defense lawyer.New York Kidnapping Crimes: Related Offenses and Other Considerations
While the term “Kidnapping” will usually be used across the country to refer to the all-too-frequent occurrence of abduction of a child by a noncustodial parent, Kidnapping is not the technical charge that will typically apply to the kind of situation in New York. In this state, Kidnapping the First and Second Degrees, PL 135.25 and PL 135.20 respectively, are extremely serious felony charges that come with the possibility of very lengthy prison sentences. While abducting a person's own child still comes with potential criminal charges that must be taken seriously, that kind of circumstance will typically not result in the particular charge of Kidnapping in New York. This is due to the affirmative defense that is built into the Penal Law with regard to Kidnapping charges under PL 135.30. Under that statute, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant was a relative of the person abducted, and the defendant's sole purpose was to assume control of the abducted person. In other words, a person cannot be guilty of Kidnapping when they abduct their child, grandchild, brother, sister, niece or nephew if they were abducting them simply to take control of them or have them in their care. It is important to note that this affirmative defense does not apply where there was some other motive or purpose behind the abduction, such as demanding money, forcing the other parent to do something, or to injure the abducted person in some way. Assuming that none of those aggravating circumstances apply, a relative should not be charged with Kidnapping, but could still be charged with other serious, but less severe, charges such as Custodial Interference in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, or Custodial Interference in the First Degree, a class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison. Additionally, depending on one’s conduct and regardless of whether it is in the context of a domestic dispute, Unlawful Imprisonment as either a misdemeanor or felony are potentially viable crimes and charges that you will face and address with your criminal lawyer.
- First and Second Degree Custodial Interference: NY Penal Law 135.50 and 135.45
- First and Second Degree Unlawful Imprisonment: NY Penal Law 135.10 and 135.05
- New York Domestic Violence Arrest, Crimes & Laws
While it is a simple enough concept, the circumstances and facts of a Kidnapping case are never simple. These are some of the most complex cases that require the most thorough investigation, the most careful legal analysis, and the most thoughtful and sophisticated defense possible. While the criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law have challenged allegations of Kidnapping against their clients, Saland Law has also gone as far as securing an acquittal after a two week trial accusing a client of Second Degree Kidnapping in New York.
Don’t let an accusation of Kidnapping, irrespective of the degree, upend your life, humiliate your family and put a complete stop to your career and employment. When accused of Kidnapping, let Saland Law’s experience, knowledge and advocacy be your strongest defense.
Call the New York City criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.