Crime Overview Kidnapping

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While kidnapping for cash is not as common in the United States as it is in places like Baghdad, Colombia, and Haiti, kidnapping in America is still a common occurrence. Kidnapping in the United States is usually in the form of child abduction by sexual predators and pedophiles. In the U.S., kidnappings that are done for a profit are connected with other forms of illegal activity, like human trafficking. Parents who kidnap their own children, say from the other parent, also make up a percentage of kidnappings in the United States. Bride kidnapping makes up a small percentage of U.S. kidnappings as well.

Under both federal and state law, kidnapping is defined as the taking of a person from one place to another against his or her will. It can also be defined as the confining of a person to a controlled space, or the false imprisonment of a person when there is no legal authority to imprison them. In some states, kidnapping laws require that the taking or confining be for extortion, for the facilitation of a crime, or some other unlawful purpose, in order to constitute kidnapping. Additionally, a parent who does not have legal custody rights to a child may be charged with kidnapping for taking his or her own child out of the custody of another parent, a foster home, or a relative or legal guardian.

Different laws have been put into place to prevent a parent from kidnapping their own child and bringing them to a different state, such as the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act in 1980, which enforced a duty on states to uphold the decisions of the sister state. International abductions have been increasing in the past couple decades, which has led to the International Child Abduction Remedies Act of 1988, under which the wronged parent can apply to the country where the child has been taken for their child's return.

Kidnapping at common law used to be distinguished as a misdemeanor, but today it is classified as a felony in all jurisdictions. The punishment today that is accredited by the federal Lindbergh Law imposes a sentence of imprisonment from 10 years to life. Different jurisdictions have different degrees of kidnapping, sometimes depending on the amount of harm that is done to the victim, or if a weapon such as a gun was used during the kidnapping. The nature of the kidnapping itself is also brought into consideration. Punishment levels can be raised depending on factors such as if the victim was intentionally mistreated to a point where their life was threatened, or if the victim was sexually exploited (rape or molestation).

Different terminologies are also used in regards to kidnapping, such as the word abduction has been used in the past many times when the victim is a woman. Today, the kidnapping of a child, especially when there is no intent to collect ransom but to keep the child, is often called child stealing. A child being taken away without their parents' consent but with the assent of the child is also often called child abduction.

In 2008, statistics from the National Crime Information Center saw 778,161 missing person reports in the U.S., though 745,088 were removed eventually. 87,497 were thought to be in physical danger, and 20,562 missing person were taken involuntarily. 299,787 were classified as runaways, and 2,919 were abducted by a non-custodial parent. The kidnappings that were taken off the list were for a variety of reasons, such as the victims being located by the law or returning home themselves, or the record being considered invalid.

If you have been accused of any type of kidnapping, whether you are guilty or not, you should hire a criminal lawyer or attorney. If you are suing a convicted criminal for damages resulting from kidnapping, you should hire a civil lawyer or attorney. If the person was not convicted and you want to sue for damages, you should still hire a civil lawyer or attorney. Criminal lawyers and attorneys represent individuals who have been charged with crimes by arguing their cases in courts of law. A criminal lawyer or attorney will typically have a private practice concentrating on criminal law.

If you have been arrested for kidnapping, you must request an attorney at the time you are arrested or contact a private criminal lawyer or attorney immediately. A criminal attorney will be familiar with kidnapping laws of the state in which the crime took place, they will be familiar with local court customs and procedures.

If you are ready to contact a criminal lawyer or attorney, visit the American Bar Association. The American Bar Association website offers free access to their lawyer locater to help you find a criminal lawyer or attorney in your area.