Kidnapping Defense Lawyer in Austin, TX

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Kidnapping is a serious crime that may be charged as a federal offense under certain circumstances. Being convicted of kidnapping or illegally abducting another person can lead to many years in prison.

If you face criminal charges of kidnapping in Texas, you need an experienced Austin felony defense attorney to investigate the charges against you and defend you effectively. Many so-called kidnapping cases involve parents, relatives, or guardians of the alleged victim and are part of complicated domestic issues, such as a messy divorce or child custody case. In these types of cases, there may be an opportunity for a skilled defense attorney to get a kidnapping charge reduced or dismissed.

Regardless of the circumstances, a conviction for kidnapping, unlawful restraint, or abduction can ruin your life, family, and reputation. Even if you pay the price by serving prison time in Texas, when you get out, the stigma of a major felony conviction will always follow you.

At Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., our legal team recognizes that your future is on the line if you have been charged with kidnapping or associated crimes. If you’re facing kidnapping charges, you can count on our Austin kidnapping defense attorneys to pursue the best possible results for you. We will dedicate our attention to your case and create a strategy to defend you against the serious charges you face.

Call us today for a confidential consultation and learn more about how we can help you.

Texas Kidnapping Charges: Understanding Kidnapping, Abduction, and Unlawful Restraint

Under Texas Penal Code Chapter 20, a person commits kidnapping if they intentionally or knowingly abduct another person. A person may be an individual or a corporation, or another business entity or organization.

To abduct a person means to restrain them with the intent to hold them in a place where they are not likely to be found or by using or threatening to use deadly force.

Unlawful restraint is intentionally or knowingly restraining another person without the right to do so, such as is allowed under parental rights or another adult’s right or obligation to act in place of parents to assume lawful control of a child younger than 14 years old.

To illegally restrain a person means to restrict their movements without consent by confining them or moving them from one place to another to interfere with their liberty. Restraint is without consent if it is accomplished by force, intimidation, or deception, or by any means, including acquiescence of the victim, if:

  • They are a child younger than 14 years old, or an incompetent person and their parent or guardian has not agreed to the movement or confinement.
  • They are a child aged 14 to 16, and they are taken outside of the state and outside a 120-mile radius from their residence, and their parent or guardian has not agreed to the movement.

Aggravated Kidnapping in Texas: What You Need to Know

Charges of aggravated kidnapping may be filed if the defendant:

  • Used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of the kidnapping.
  • Held an abducted person for ransom.
  • Used an abducted person as a shield or hostage.
  • Inflicted bodily injury on an abducted person or violated or abused them sexually.
  • Terrorized an abducted person or a third person.
  • Interfered with the performance of any governmental function.
  • Assisted in the kidnapping or helped a kidnapper get away after committing or attempting the crime.
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Potential Penalties for Kidnapping Offenses in Texas: Understanding the Consequences

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Kidnapping is a third-degree felony in Texas. It is punishable on conviction by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Aggravated kidnapping is a first-degree felony. It carries a potential sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If, at trial, a defendant proves they voluntarily released the kidnapping victim in a safe place, aggravated kidnapping charges will be reduced to a second-degree felony. This is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Unlawful restraint is typically charged as a Class A misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to 1 year in prison or a fine of up to $4,000 or both. However, unlawful restraint may be charged as a:

  • State jail felony if the person restrained was a child younger than 17 years old. This is punishable by 180 days to 2 years in a state jail.
  • Third-degree felony if the defendant:
  • Recklessly exposed the victim to a substantial risk of serious bodily injury.
  • Restrained someone they knew to be a public servant while the public servant was lawfully discharging an official duty or in retaliation for having carried out official duties.
  • Restrained anyone else while the defendant was in custody.
  • Second-degree felony if the defendant restrained a person who they knew to be a law enforcement officer or a judge while the law enforcement officer or judge was lawfully discharging an official duty or in retaliation for the performance of an official duty.

A third-degree felony is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

A second-degree felony is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Kidnapping vs. Unlawful Restraint: Key Differences Under Texas Law

In most cases, the key difference between kidnapping and unlawful restraint under Texas law involves abduction or taking a person from one place to another so they cannot be found and set free.

Slamming the door shut and saying, “You aren’t going anywhere” may be unlawful restraint, but it is not kidnapping.

Putting someone in the trunk of a car and/or blindfolding them, taking them to a location unknown to them would likely lead to kidnapping charges.

In other cases, unlawful restraint becomes an abduction and kidnapping because the defendant used or threatened to use deadly force.

Taking your child somewhere in violation of child custody orders could also lead to unlawful restraint charges. If you take them somewhere that could be considered a hiding place, you could face kidnapping charges.

If the child is younger than 14, taking them anywhere in violation of child custody orders and without permission may be charged as unlawful restraint – regardless of the child’s consent. If the child is aged 14 to 16, unlawful restraint charges may be filed if you take them out of Texas in violation of child custody orders and without permission.

It is not a crime for a parent or relative to take a child younger than 14 years old away from an unsafe environment, such as out of an unruly party, if the sole intent is to assume lawful control of the child.

Proving Abduction in Kidnapping Cases: Legal Considerations in Texas

If someone has claimed that you held them against their will, for the charge to rise to the level of kidnapping, the prosecution must be able to prove that you abducted the alleged victim. Abduction requires evidence of the defendant’s:

  • Use or threats to use deadly force. Texas Penal Code defines deadly force as a force capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. It typically involves using or brandishing a weapon, such as a gun, knife, or club. If you did not possess a weapon during the alleged kidnapping and did not verbally threaten serious bodily injury, this standard would not be met.
  • Holding the alleged victim in a place where he or she was not likely to be found. We would argue that anywhere you and the alleged victim had ever been together or that you had been known to frequent would be somewhere a reasonable person would likely look for and find the alleged victim. This excludes many places from potential hiding places.

Kidnapping also requires that the defendant intentionally or knowingly abducts another person. This means the defendant:

  • Acted upon a conscious objective or desire to cause the alleged victim to be abducted, or
  • Was aware that their conduct was reasonably certain to result in the alleged victim’s abduction – being hidden or held under threat of serious bodily injury.

To obtain a kidnapping conviction, it is up to the prosecution to prove that the mental state of intent or knowledge was present in your mind when you acted as alleged.

A charge is not a conviction. The burden is on the prosecution to prove that you are guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt to secure a conviction. An experienced kidnapping defense attorney with Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., can help you fight the charges you face. As your attorneys, we would investigate to determine the strength of the prosecution’s case and identify its potential weaknesses. Depending on the circumstances, a strong challenge to the prosecution’s case may make it possible to have the charges against you reduced or dropped.

Because our firm’s attorneys have long-term professional relationships with Travis County prosecutors, we can reach out immediately if there are opportunities to negotiate downgrade charges. Sometimes prosecutors will downgrade or dismiss charges because the defendant has a clean record and expresses contrition, especially in cases involving family members who are also persuaded of the defendant’s remorse.

The outcome of your case is not predetermined. Contact an experienced and reputable Austin defense attorney to get the help you need.

Schedule A Free Case Review With Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., has successfully defended clients in the Austin, Texas, area against criminal charges such as kidnapping since 1963. When you hire an experienced and knowledgeable Austin kidnapping defense attorney from our firm, you will receive quality representation and individualized attention throughout the legal process.

It is important to engage an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest or indictment. The longer the police and prosecutors have to build their case against you without a defense attorney protecting your rights, the more challenging the fight for your rights becomes.

In Travis County and the greater Austin, TX, metro area, contact Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., for experienced criminal defense representation against kidnapping charges. We are committed to defending our clients as aggressively as possible. Call us or contact us online now.