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When domestic violence evolves into kidnapping

A lot of people arrested on charges of domestic violence suddenly find themselves facing something even more serious: charges of kidnapping.

How does one turn into the other?

Under Florida's laws, kidnapping is defined as holding someone against his or her will, without legal authority to do so, through force, threats, abduction or imprisonment. In addition, there has to be a specific intention behind this unlawful confinement in order to truly qualify as kidnapping -- such as holding the victim for ransom, using the victim as a hostage, terrorizing or physically harming the victim (or someone close to the victim) or attempting to hinder a function of the government (such as a police investigation).

It's important to understand that no child has to be involved to make a kidnapping charge stick. In fact, there are a number of common situations where domestic violence between adults evolves into a kidnapping charge:

  • A suicidal person gets drunk and threatens to kill himself or herself, waving a gun around in the air, if the other person leaves.
  • A husband blocks a wife in the bedroom during a fight and refuses to let her leave the room or use the phone despite her repeated requests to leave. When she tries, he physically shoves her back into the room.
  • A woman holds the police at bay with a gun and threatens to shoot herself and her boyfriend if the police come into the apartment to respond to a complaint of a neighbor who overheard them fighting.
  • A man threatens to follow his wife if she tries to leave the house to go to work and shoot someone because he believes his wife is having an affair with a co-worker.

These are just some of the ways that a fight with a family member or significant other can rapidly evolve into a kidnapping.

Being charged with kidnapping is much more serious than many people realize -- it's a first-degree felony that comes with a potential 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If you're facing kidnapping charges related to domestic violence, an experienced defense attorney can help you learn your legal options.

Source: FindLaw, "Florida Kidnapping Laws," accessed July 27, 2017

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