If you are charged with kidnapping in Alabama, as a violent crime you face fines, community service, and time in state or federal prison. Alabama also makes parental kidnapping a crime in some circumstances. It is important to understand the distinction between parental kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, and typical kidnapping charges. If you are ever accused of kidnapping, seek legal advice from an Alabama kidnapping lawyer as soon as possible.
In the Alabama criminal code, restraining a person is defined as restricting a person’s movements unlawfully and without consent. Restraint is without consent if it is accomplished by physical force, threats, or intimidation. If the person is under 16, unlawful restraint means restraint by any means by a person who is not their parent, lawful guardian, or without their guardian’s consent.
Abduction means to restrain a person by holding them in a place where they are unlikely to be found or by using or threatening to use deadly force.
A relative under the kidnapping statute is defined as a parent, stepparent, sibling, ancestor, uncle, aunt, or legal guardian, whether that person is a natural relative or through an adoption or marriage.
The most severe kidnapping crime in Alabama is first-degree kidnapping. A person commits a kidnapping in the first degree if he or she abducts another person with the intent to:
Kidnapping in the first degree is a Class A felony. If the perpetrator releases the victim unharmed voluntarily, this may be a defense to first-degree kidnapping. However, this does not prevent prosecution for any lesser offenses. The defendant must raise the issue of voluntary, safe release, but the prosecution must still prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If accused of first-degree kidnapping, a kidnapping lawyer may be able to help you get the charge dismissed or reduced.
Second-degree kidnapping refers to the abduction of another, and it is a Class B felony. A person commits second-degree kidnapping if the following conditions apply:
An Alabama kidnapping attorney can examine the evidence and raise any defense that applies. This could mean arguing that the elements of the crime do not apply or that the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proving the elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
A person commits unlawful imprisonment in the first degree if they restrain someone in a way that poses a risk of serious physical injury. First-degree unlawful imprisonment is a Class A misdemeanor in Alabama.
A person commits unlawful imprisonment in the second degree if they restrain another person’s movement. Second-degree unlawful imprisonment is a Class C misdemeanor. A person may be found not guilty of second-degree unlawful imprisonment if the following conditions apply:
A charge related to kidnapping (because the charge involves taking physical control of another) is interference with custody. A person commits the offense of interference with custody if he or she takes or entices:
Interference with custody is a Class C felony. A common defense to interference with custody is if the sole purpose is to assume lawful control of a child.
In some situations, you could be accused of parental kidnapping if you remove your child from a parent’s custody without the parent’s approval or court permission. Child custody cases involving children removed from the state are controlled by the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), which establishes laws for parental kidnapping situations in every state. Removing your children from a court’s jurisdiction without permission could affect your custody rights even if you are not charged with a crime.
There are some situations where you do not have the right to take custody of your child, even if your name is on the child’s birth certificate. If your rights have been terminated by court order, you may be prohibited from removing your child from the custody of the child’s lawful guardian even if you are the child’s biological mother or father. If you are the biological father of a minor child born out of wedlock, there is no custody order establishing your right to visitation.
Therefore, you do not have legal rights to keep your child from the child’s biological mother unless you have asserted your paternity rights and obtained a court order establishing your custody and visitation rights.
Parental kidnapping cases can be complex because they may involve the laws of more than one state and may be considered a crime as well as a violation of prior custody orders. If you are considering moving with your child, speak to an attorney before you do so to ensure that you do not violate any laws or prior court orders by moving away from the state.
Kidnapping is a very serious crime, punishable by long prison sentences. However, if you are charged with kidnapping in Alabama, it is essential to remember that you still have rights and options to consider. Your intent at the time, whether or not force was involved, and whether or not you are related to the alleged victim can all be considered in your defense. An experienced kidnapping attorney with Alabama Criminal Lawyers can help you present the best defense possible after a thorough review of your case.