In Texas, kidnapping is classified into three (3) categories, first, second, and third degree kidnapping. Each offense is graded based on the circumstances surrounding the offense. For example, if a kidnapping occurs without force or threat of force, then it will be charged as a third-degree kidnapping. On the other than, if a kidnapping is committed with force or violence, then it will fall into a higher category.
When discussing kidnapping in Texas, it is important to recognize the distinction between the words “abduct” and “restrain.” In Texas, kidnapping is defined as “knowingly or intentionally abducting another person.
Texas Penal Code also criminalizes unlawful restraint (§ 20.02). To restrain, under Texas law, means to “restrict an individual’s freedom of movement.” While, unlawful restraint is a lesser-included offense of kidnapping, it is still a different crime. Thus, it is important to note that to “abduct” and to “restrain” are different acts.
Attorney for Kidnapping Offenses in Georgetown, Texas
If you or someone you know has been accused or is under investigation for kidnapping or unlawful restraint in Georgetown Texas, contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney is imperative.
Attorney Michael J. Price is an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer known for being a zealous advocate and a skilled litigator. He has handled multiple types of violent crimes throughout the courtrooms in Williamson County, TX. His office also accepts cases in Bell County, Milam County, Lee County, Burnet County, Travis County, and Bastrop County, in Texas.
Call Price & Twine, PLLC at (512) 354-1880 now for more information and to set up a free, no obligations, consultation with our office. Our evaluations are thorough and confidential so that you will not waste time in deciding whether you would like to move forward with your case.
Texas Kidnapping Information Center
- How to Prove Kidnapping in Texas?
- What are the Defenses to Kidnapping Charges?
- What are the Penalties for Kidnapping?
- Can you Kidnap Your Kids?
- Where can I Find out More on Kidnapping?
Elements of Tex. Pen. Ann. § 20.03
In order to convict an individual of kidnapping in Texas, the State must show the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- the offender acted knowingly or intentionally;
- the offender abducted the victim.
Kidnapping rises to the level of an aggravated offense under the certain forceful circumstances. An individual commits aggravated kidnapping if he or she knowingly or intentionally abducts a person with the intent to do any of the following:
- use him as a shield or hostage;
- hold him for ransom or reward;
- inflict bodily injury on him or her or violate or abuse him or her sexually;
- terrorize him or her or a third person; or
- interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.
Affirmative Defenses to Kidnapping
An affirmative defense is a set of facts or circumstances that, if proven, will mitigate criminal charges. The defendant has the burden to prove his or her affirmative defense to an allegation. Texas Pen. Code § 20.03 outlines a number of affirmative defenses to kidnapping. Such defenses include the following:
- kidnapping was not coupled with the intent to use or threaten to use deadly force;
- the offender was a relative of the abducted victim;
- the actor’s sole intent was to assume lawful control of the victim
Penalties for Kidnapping
Kidnapping may be charged under all three degrees of a felony offense, depending on the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping.
Kidnapping a victim without using force or threat of force is charged as a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to ten-years in Texas State Prison and up to $10,000 fines.
Aggravated Kidnapping may be charged as a first-degree felony. In Texas, first-degree felonies are punishable by up to life in prison and up to $10,000 fines. The mandatory minimum for a first-degree felony is five-years in prison.
If the offender can show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he or she voluntarily released the victim to a safe place, then the offender will be charged with a second-degree felony.
Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to twenty (20) years in prison and up to $10,000 fines.
Parental kidnapping is one of the most common kidnapping offenses. Generally, a noncustodial parent takes a child outside of his or her scheduled visitation time, or, in come cases, out of the state. Out-of-state kidnapping offenses have the potential to implicate the federal government.
In Texas, parental kidnapping is determined by the three following factors:
- the legal status of the offending parent;
- the existence of any court orders regarding custody; and
- the intent of the offending parent.
The important thing to note with parental kidnapping is that until a court order or custody agreement has been ordered, both parents have equal rights to the child in question. Thus, a parent with equal rights is unlikely to be accused of kidnapping his or her own child.
Additional Resources on Kidnapping in Texas
Tex. Pen. Code. § 20.03 – This link is directed to the Texas Legislature Website and provides the full statutory disposition of the Texas Kidnapping Statute, including the degree of punishment that may be handed down in the event of conviction. The Statute also includes the elements of unlawful restraint and smuggling of persons.
Texas Kidnapping Statistics — Visit the Texas Tribune website for more information on aggravated kidnapping in Texas. The Texas Tribune provides information on the sentence length (or amount of jail time) a Texas inmate have faced based on the number of inmates, the number of inmates who have been convicted of aggravated kidnapping broken down by race, and by sex.
Find a Lawyer for Kidnapping Charges in Williamson County, TX
If you or someone you know has been accused of kidnapping in Williamson County, especially if the victim is the alleged offender’s child, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Attorney Michael J. Price has been battling false accusations of kidnapping and other violent crimes in Texas courtrooms for years. He is a strong and loyal litigator who will fight to get you the best potential outcome of your case.
Price & Twine, PLLC takes cases in Georgetown, Texas in the surrounding counties like Bell County, Milam County, Lee County, Bastrop County, Travis County, and Burnet County.
Call (512) 354-1880 now to schedule a confidential, one-on-one, consultation with Attorney Price.