Charges of Kidnapping in Arizona
An Arizona kidnapping charge is a very serious matter. Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that many people don’t necessarily intend to do, but end up doing as a last resort when they feel that they have exhausted their other options. They may not even realize that what they are doing legally counts as kidnapping if it occurs during the commission of a crime, and are surprised to learn that they will be facing these charges on top of whatever else they may have against them.
If you or someone you love has been charged with kidnapping in Phoenix or other areas of the state, it is paramount that you retain the services of a qualified Phoenix criminal lawyer with experience handling kidnapping cases as soon as you possibly can. Only someone with the knowledge and practical experience of dealing with Arizona’s kidnapping laws can lead you through the complicated process of dealing with them and make sure that you understand your rights and potential outcomes.
What Constitutes Kidnapping in Arizona
The Arizona kidnapping laws are defined under ARS § 13-1304, and cover more ground than most people probably imagine. Kidnapping, in the popular culture, is generally a word people use to mean that someone has abducted another person – often a child – and either attempts to keep them or wants to try to obtain a ransom for their return. While this is certainly a kind of kidnapping, the law covers much more than this.
Arizona kidnapping simply means that a person knowingly restrains another person and intends to do one or more of the following:
- Hold the victim for ransom
- Hold the victim as a shield, as in a hostage situation
- Hold the victim so that they may perform involuntary servitude (e.g. a sex slave)
- Inflict death or otherwise hurt the victim
- Cause sexual offense on the victim
- Force the victim to aid them in committing a felony or other crime
- Make a third person fear that the victim will be harmed
- Make the victim fear that a third person will be harmed
- Interfere with or otherwise interrupt a governmental or political function
- Seize or take control of vehicle such as a bus, airplane, ship, or train
How Kidnapping Is Charged in Arizona
Arizona kidnapping of any kind is charged as a felony. Depending on the actions of the alleged kidnapper, the charges may fall anywhere from a Class 4 to a Class 2 felony.
In order to be charged with the least serious kidnapping offense – a Class 4 felony charge – the kidnapper would need to voluntarily release his or her victim to a place that is safe before committing any other illegal acts and before they are arrested. If they do this, they would face Class 4 charges. These charges carry with them a prison term of at least 1 ½ years, up to a maximum of 3 ¾ years.
For a kidnapper to receive a Class 3 felony kidnapping charge, he or she cannot have caused their victim any physical injury before releasing them, but can negotiate an agreement with the state beforehand. This kind of kidnapping charge carries with it a prison sentence of at least 2 ½ years, but no more than 7 years.
Class 2 felony kidnapping charges are reserved for kidnappers only in two situations:
- When the defendant refuses to release the victim until they are arrested and in holding the victim causes physical injury and/or commits another criminal act.
- When the victim of the kidnapping is 15 years old or younger.
The first instance of Class 2 felony kidnapping as listed above is punishable by at least 4 years of prison time, but no more than 10 years. The second instance – the kidnapping of someone 15 or under – warrants a sentence of life in prison under Arizona law. All kidnapping sentences are set to run consecutively – not concurrently – with the sentencing for any other crime.
Fight Your Arizona Kidnapping Charge
Charges of kidnapping will change your life, but a charge is still not a conviction. If you want to receive the best possible outcome in your case, your best bet is to contact an experienced Phoenix criminal lawyer the second you are arrested so that he or she can begin delving into the details of your case and planning a defense to protect your rights and fight to lessen the charges against you.