Timothy Nelson pled guilty to kidnapping a young girl 20 years ago. Also facing charges of sexual assault, Nelson will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. This is because kidnapping is a very serious crime in Pennsylvania. Those convicted face many years in prison, which is why it’s so important those accused get the help they need to build a solid defense.
Kidnapping in Pennsylvania Defined
Pennsylvania’s kidnapping laws are found at 18 Pa. C.S., Section 2901. This section of the law states kidnapping occurs when a person illegally moves another person a substantial distance from the place the person was found. The statute also includes unlawfully confining someone for a substantial period of time in a place of isolation as kidnapping.
According to the statute, a person’s intent plays an important role in kidnapping. To charge someone with kidnapping, they must have had the intent to:
- Hold the person for ransom or reward
- Use the person as a shield or hostage
- Commit a felony, or flee from a felony
- Injure or terrorize the victim or someone else
- Interfere with government or political actions
The section of code that defines kidnapping also defines kidnapping of a minor. While the definition includes all elements of general kidnapping, this section also includes the provision that the victim was under the age of 18 when the crime occurred.
Penalties for Kidnapping in Pennsylvania
Kidnapping is considered a very serious crime in Pennsylvania. It is considered a felony in the first degree. This means it is the most serious charge anyone could face, with the exception of murder. There is no possibility to have kidnapping charges reduced, regardless of whether the crime involved a child or not.
Penalties for a felony in the first degree throughout the state are harsh. Those convicted face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000. Like all crimes, those found guilty will also have a permanent criminal record, preventing them from gaining employment, housing, and other opportunities.
Many kidnapping charges arise from custody disputes in which one parent kidnaps their own child. This is sometimes known as parental kidnapping, even though the law does not specify such a crime.
When a parent has kidnapped their child, they will likely face charges other than kidnapping. They may be charged with unlawful restraint of a minor or false imprisonment of a minor. Both of these crimes are considered second degree felonies. Although the kidnapper in these cases are a parent or guardian, the penalties are still steep. Convicted parents could face up to ten years in prison and the same maximum fine of $25,000.
Been Charged with a Crime? Call a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Kidnapping, even parental kidnapping, is a very serious charge in Pennsylvania. Those accused need the help of an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer that can help them beat the charges.
If you’ve been charged with kidnapping, or any other crime, contact us at van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin at (215) 486-0123. We’ll create a solid defense and give you the best chance of retaining your freedom. Call us today or contact us online so we can begin reviewing your case.