Kidnapping is a very serious criminal charge in the state of Texas. This felony-level crime can result in very serious punishments, including high fines, loss of your constitutional rights, as well as a substantial prison sentence. When you are accused of a crime, the prosecutor has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt—a high standard. With the right legal defense, you can ensure your constitutional rights are protected, and that you put forth the best defense possible.
You deserve the best representation possible to avoid a kidnapping conviction. The Law Office of E. Jason Leach is dedicated to defending the rights of the accused. If you need a strong criminal defense in the Odessa, Texas area, the Law Office of E. Jason Leach is ready to help.
Odessa, Texas Kidnapping Lawyer
E. Jason Leach focuses exclusively on criminal defense law and has been doing so for over a decade. Since 2005, he has worked tirelessly to protect the rights of those accused of crimes. He is a Texas board-certified expert in criminal defense and believes that all clients are entitled to the most vigorous defense possible.
People accused of a crime have constitutional rights that deserve to be protected. A criminal conviction can place an incredibly heavy burden on your life, but you do not have to simply accept the charges against you. You can fight back and work to avoid the difficulties of a criminal conviction. With the right help at your side, you can move forward confident that your rights are protected.
Under Texas law, two important definitions are crucial to understanding Texas kidnapping laws. The difference between them could mean the difference between a low-level or high-level crime.
Abduction: Abduction is defined by Texas law as taking a person with or without their consent and preventing rescue by threatening violence and/or hiding the individual.
Restraint: Restraint occurs when a person restricts another's movement by confining them in a certain space and/or moving them from one place to another—both with the individual's consent. Consent is lacking if the victim directly does not consent, the victim is under 14 without parental consent, or if the victim is between ages 14 and 17 and is taken out of state or outside of a 120-mile radius of the minor's residence.
Types of Kidnapping in Texas
There are different types of "kidnapping" laws in Texas. Depending on the severity of the conduct involved, the charge can range from a misdemeanor all the way up to a first-degree felony charge.
Aggravated kidnapping occurs when a person is abducted by another and the purpose of the abduction was for:
- human shield
- the victim was terrorized
- the victim suffered bodily harm or sexual abuse
- a deadly weapon was used on the victim
- offender interfered with a government or political function
In these cases, aggravated kidnapping is a first-degree felony. If the offender commits this offense but then releases the victim voluntarily in a safe place, the charge can be reduced to a second-degree felony.
A first-degree felony charge may result in:
- 5 to 99 years in prison
- $10,000 fine
A second-degree felony charge may result in:
- 2 to 20 years in prison
- $10,000 fine
Ordinary kidnapping occurs any time a person commits an abduction of another person as defined by Texas State Penal Code § 20.01. This offense is a third-degree felony and carries the following potential penalties:
- 2 to 10 years in prison
- $10,000 fine
An unlawful transport occurs when a defendant abducts an individual so that they are hidden from law enforcement and there is a significant risk of suffering serious bodily injury or death. The offense is typically a felony of the third degree.
It will be a felony of the second degree if:
- the actor acts in such a way that creates a substantial likelihood that the smuggled individual will suffer serious bodily injury or death, or
- the smuggled individual is a child younger than 18 years of age at the time of the offense.
It can be a first-degree felony if:
- the smuggled individual becomes a victim of sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault, or
- the smuggled individual suffered serious bodily injury or death
Unlawful restraint occurs when a person is restrained unlawfully as defined by § 20.02 of the Texas Penal Code. Unlawful restraint is typically a Class A misdemeanor, subject to the following penalties:
- up to 1 year in jail
- fine of up to $4,000
The charge can instead be a third-degree felony if the victim is exposed to a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or certain types of individuals are unlawfully restrained. In this case, it can instead be a third-degree felony.
Defenses to Kidnapping Charges in Texas
There are many different defenses that a skilled criminal defense lawyer can raise on your behalf. Texas law requires intent or other types of "frame of mind" that must be proven in order to make the charge stick. If your defense makes the prosecutor unable to prove their case, you cannot be found guilty of that charge.
Other defenses include, but are not limited to:
- there was no intent to use deadly force during the kidnapping
- the victim was related to you
- you were exercising a legal and valid right to control the alleged victim
- the victim was released in a safe place
- you were unaware that you were committing a kidnapping offense
- your actions do not satisfy the requirements for aggravated kidnapping
In many cases, a strong defense can lead to a significant reduction of the charges you face to a lesser crime, or they may lead to a finding of "not guilty." Your lawyer can challenge the evidence against you and cast doubt on the prosecutor's case. You deserve to have your constitutional rights well-protected.
Consult an Experienced Odessa Kidnapping Lawyer
If you or someone you care about want is charged with kidnapping or a related charge in Odessa, TX or the surrounding areas, you need a knowledgeable, experienced attorney to fight for your constitutional rights.
You have the right to fight back against these charges. The Law Office of E. Jason Leach, PLLC is ready to help you defend your case. To set up a free consultation, contact the Law Office of E. Jason Leach today at (432) 552-7000.