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What constitutes kidnapping in Pennsylvania?

There are certain criminal allegations that Pennsylvania residents will immediately associate with the worst possible acts that a person can commit. Sex-based offenses fall into that category, as do any abusive or violent acts toward children. Another crime that will have negative connotations and severe penalties is kidnapping. It is imperative to separate the emotional reaction and reality. Understanding the law related to kidnapping and formulating a defense is key in a kidnapping case.

If a person takes another person a substantial distance from where that individual was found or confines a person for a substantial period with that person being isolated, it is possible for a charge of kidnapping to be filed. The following must be in place regarding intent: the kidnapped person was being held to secure a ransom or reward or as a hostage or shield; the person was used to commit a felony and for the accused to flee after that felony; the intent was to cause bodily injury or to terrorize the victim or another person; or the goal was to interfere with public officials performing their legal function. Kidnapping a minor is when a person who is younger than 18 is subject to the above-listed behaviors.

If the kidnapping is of an adult, it is a first-degree felony. The confinement or removal will be against the law if it is done by force, via threat or the victim is deceived. If the person is incapacitated, it will be kidnapping if it is done without the approval of a parent, guardian or someone who supervises the individual. For kidnapping of a minor, it is also a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony conviction can result in 25 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

While the mere word "kidnapping" will immediately bring forth the image of a child abduction or taking a person against his or her will with ill intent, it is important to remember that criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty. The investigation must be scrutinized and the entire case should be dissected when formulating a defense. Whether the kidnapping allegations result in state charges or federal charges, or both, it is important to craft a strong defense strategy.

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Phone: 412-342-8000
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