As in most places, kidnapping is a serious crime in the state of Florida. Originally an offense under the common law of England and Wales, the laws of kidnapping in Florida mirror similar laws in other states. Following is what you need to know about Florida’s kidnapping laws.
In Florida, statute sets out that kidnapping is
- confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person
- against her or his will and
- without lawful authority.
In addition to the above, the defendant must have the intent to do four specific acts in order to be convicted of kidnapping.
Florida law says that a defendant must intend to do one of four things. First, a defendant must be proven to have intended to use his victim for a ransom or reward or for use as a shield or hostage. This is the case in most kidnapping convictions in Florida.
Another intent that often leads to a conviction on kidnapping charges is abducting a person in order to commit or help commit another felony. Florida law does not limit what other felony must be committed for a kidnapping conviction, and the other felony does not have to be completed to sustain a conviction.
Florida kidnapping law specifies that the intent to injure or terrorize another person turns an abduction into a kidnapping charge. Either the kidnapping victim himself or another person altogether may be target of intimidation.
The final intent specified in Florida kidnapping law is in order to interfere with a government or political function.
Movement or Confinement
Florida’s courts have established a three-part test to determine whether the movement or confinement alleged against the defendant rises to the level of a kidnapping.
Movement must not have been
- small and incidental to the other felony, or
- not inherent to the nature of the other felony, or
- that it must have been done in order to make the other felony easier to commit or avoid detection.
Florida’s kidnapping statute also considers confining a child of 13 or younger as the crime of kidnapping if the defendant does so without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian. The child’s permission is not relevant to the crime, as children of that age cannot legally consent.
Florida law considers kidnapping a felony of the first degree, assigning it the penalty of up to life in prison. However, if the victim is 13 years of age or younger, several acts during the course of the kidnapping increases it to a life felony, including
- aggravated child abuse,
- sexual battery,
- lewd or lascivious battery, molestation, conduct, or exhibition,
- exploitation, and
- human trafficking.
A conviction of aggravated kidnapping could lead to a life sentence, or 25 years in prison and probation for life upon release. However, if the defendant has previous convictions for certain violent crimes, they may be sentenced as habitual violent felony offenders. In that case, the defendant may be given a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for fifteen years.