Kidnapping is a serious crime in Florida. Although the idea of what constitutes kidnapping may seem fairly straightforward to the lay person, the laws surrounding the crime of kidnapping in Florida carry a degree of nuance that typically requires a competent attorney to unravel. The following is what you need to know about Florida’s laws against kidnapping.
In Florida, the state’s statute defines kidnapping as
imprisoning another person
against their will.
Further, in order to sustain a conviction of kidnapping in Florida, the act must be
by threat, and
without lawful authority.
Florida’s Three-Pronged Test
Florida’s Supreme Court established a three-pronged test several years ago to determine whether a confinement or restriction on movement should be considered a kidnapping. The three prongs are
The restriction must not be slight, inconsequential, and only incidental to some other crime,
it must not be a restriction that is inherent in the nature of another crime, and
it must have some independent significance from another crime that makes the crime substantially easier to commit or greatly reduces the risk of detection.
In short, the restriction must not be only incidental to some other crime.
Florida law considers some kidnappings to be more serious than others. State law classifies a kidnapping of a child younger than 13 years of age to be an “aggravated kidnapping.” Kidnapping of a child under the age of 13 is aggravated when during the kidnapping the defendant commits
aggravated child abuse,
lewd or lascivious conduct,
procures the child for prostitution or forces the child to become a prostitute, or
exploits the child or allows the child to be exploited.
As children are unable to give legal consent in Florida due to their age, the court presumes that the act was against the child’s will if the defendant holds the child without the consent of his or her parent(s) or legal guardian(s).
Also considered to be aggravated kidnapping in Florida is kidnapping while possessing, displaying, threatening to use, or using a weapon or firearm, and kidnapping law enforcement or specific other public employees while in the course of their duties. A conviction on an aggravated kidnapping is a life felony, which could be penalized by either life in prison, or a prison sentence of 25 years and probation for life upon release from prison. In addition, aggravated kidnapping could also result in a fine of up to $15,000.
Previous Violent Offenders
Defendants charged with kidnapping in Florida who have previous convictions for violent felonies or attempt or conspiracy to commit violent felonies are likely to face an even stiffer punishment if convicted of kidnapping. In those instances, a defendant may be considered by the court to be a “habitual violent felony offender” and could be sentenced to life in prison without parole for at least 15 years.
A conviction of kidnapping in Florida is a first degree felony, which may yield a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.