Charged in Federal Court with Kidnapping, Ransom and Hostage Taking?

Being charged in federal court with Kidnapping, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201, is a life altering event – a conviction of this crime carries with it some of the most severe punishments, including the possibility of mandatory life imprisonment and the death penalty.  Indeed, even the charge of attempted kidnapping is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment (18 U.S.C. § 1201(d)), and if the victim of an alleged kidnapping is under the age of 18 and the defendant has reached such such age and is not a close family member or legal custodian, the crime becomes punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment (18 U.S.C. § 1201(g)).  A defendant facing such draconian consequences of conviction is literally fighting for his life and has no choice but to retain a top New York, New Jersey or Connecticut federal criminal attorney who has experience with this complex charge and is familiar with the potential ways to avoid a high mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years or even life imprisonment.

Not All Kidnappings Are Federal Offenses

Not every kidnapping, however, may be prosecuted as a federal offense – some kidnappings may only be properly charged in state court, potentially carrying a lighter sentence upon conviction.  For example, in New York, the state crime of Kidnapping in the Second Degree, in violation PL § 135.20, is a B violent felony and punishable by a minimum of 5 years imprisonment; pursuant to the United States Sentencing Guidelines, a similar conviction in a federal court may result in a sentence of at least 10 years imprisonment.  For federal jurisdiction to attach, though – which permits the United States Attorney’s Office to prosecute a case – the defendant must have seized, confined, abducted, or carried away another person and one of the following additional conditions must be present:

(1) The victim was transported in interstate or foreign commerce, regardless of whether he or she was alive when transported across said boundary, or the defendant traveled in interstate or foreign commerce or used the mail or any means, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce in committing or in furtherance of the commission of the kidnapping;

(2) The victim was abducted within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States;

(3) The victim was abducted within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States;

(4) The victim is a foreign official, an internationally protected person, or an official guest; or

(5) The victim is a designated federal officer or employee.

18 U.S.C. § 1201(a).

Further, the federal charge of Kidnapping does not routinely apply to matters involving the abducting of a minor by a parent, except for the crime of International Parental Kidnapping – and even then, the child victim must have been under the age of 16 and the defendant must have intended to controvert the exercise of another’s parental rights by his or her conduct. See 18 U.S.C. § 1204.

Receiving Ransom, Hostage Taking

In addition to a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1201, a defendant charged with Kidnapping may also be charged with Receiving or Transmitting a Ransom, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1202, and Hostage Taking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1203.  Specifically, an individual is guilty of Receiving or Transmitting Ransom when he:

(a) … [R]eceives, possesses, or disposes of any money or other property, or any portion thereof, which has at any time been delivered as ransom or reward in connection with a [kidnapping] … knowing the same to be money or property which has been at any time delivered as such ransom or reward … ; [or]

(b) … [T]ransports, transmits, or transfers in interstate or foreign commerce any proceeds of a kidnapping … or receives, possesses, conceals, or disposes of any such proceeds after they have crossed a State or United States boundary, knowing the proceeds to have been unlawfully obtained ….

18 U.S.C. § 1202.  An individual is guilty of Hostage Taking when he “seizes or detains and threatens to kill, to injure, or to continue to detain another person in order to compel a third person or a governmental organization to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the person detained ….”  18 U.S.C. § 1203(a).  Both of these crimes are extremely serious: the crime of Receiving or Transmitting Ransom is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment; Hostage Taking is punishable by life imprisonment and, if the death of any person occurs during the commission of the crime, the death penalty.

Call a Top New York Federal Criminal Attorney Today If Charged With Kidnapping

Just today, we had a sentencing for a client who was initially charged with Kidnapping in federal court in the Southern District of New York who was facing a 20 year minimum sentence: he was 20 years old and his girlfriend who he was alleged to have kidnapped was not quite 18 years old at the time of the allegations.  Through negotiations with the government we were capable of working out a plea deal which, instead of calling for a 20 year minimum sentence as contained in the indictment, our client was permitted to plead guilty to a federal Stalking charge, 18 U.S.C. § 2261A(1)(B) – which had only a five year maximum sentence.  At sentencing today before Judge Denise Cote, our client received a sentence of only 36 months in prison.  Take a look at our Avvo.com-certified online reviews from our former clients to see what they have to say about their experiences with our firm, and then call the federal criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman to set up a consultation at (212) 581-1001.