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Florida Kidnapping Laws

Overview of Florida Kidnapping Laws

Florida defines the crime of kidnapping as the confinement, abduction, or imprisonment of another person against her or his will. The kidnapping must be committed "forcibly, secretly, or by threat" and without lawful authority. Furthermore, the person committing the crime must have the intent to (a) hold the kidnapped person for ransom or reward, or as a shield or hostage; (b) commit or facilitate the commission of any felony; (c) inflict bodily harm upon or terrorize the victim or another person; or (d) interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function. For purposes of the statute, the confinement of a child less than 13 years old is "against her or his will" if the offender confines the child without the consent of his or her parent or legal guardian.

With regard to a kidnapping performed with the intent to "commit or facilitate the commission of any felony," the latter, non-kidnapping felony need not have been completed in order to secure a kidnapping conviction.

Since almost any forcible felony could be construed as a kidnapping, the Florida Supreme Court utilizes a three-prong test to determine whether the movement or confinement of a person during the commission of another felony is sufficient to justify a kidnapping conviction. To constitute kidnapping, the necessary movement or confinement occurring within the context of the other felony (1) must not be "slight, inconsequential, and merely incidental to the other crime"; (2) must not be "of the kind inherent in the nature of the other crime"; and (3) must have some significance independent of the other crime in that it makes the other crime substantially easier to commit or substantially lessens the risk of detection. That is, the kidnapping must be more than merely incidental to the other crime.

Florida also criminalizes the aggravated form of kidnapping, which occurs when a dangerous weapon or firearm is possessed, displayed, used or threatened; the victim is a law enforcement or correctional officer or other specified public employee; the offense arises in the scope of the victim's official duties; and when a person kidnaps a child less than 13 years old. A person commits the offense of "kidnapping upon a child under the age of 13" when, in the course of the kidnapping, he or she commits one or more of the following against or upon the child:

  • Aggravated child abuse
  • Sexual battery
  • Lewd or lascivious battery, molestation, conduct, or exhibition
  • Procurement of the child for prostitution, or forcing, compelling or coercing the child to become a prostitute
  • Exploitation of the child or allowing the child to be exploited

Conviction for kidnapping committed under such aggravating circumstances will heighten the nature of the convicted person's penalties at sentencing.

Defenses to Kidnapping Charges

  • Lack of intent
  • Consent of kidnapped person or the kidnapped child's parent or legal guardian
  • Insanity

Penalties and Sentences

In Florida, kidnapping is classified as a felony of the first degree. Conviction of a first degree felony is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment in a state penitentiary of up to 30 years. The court may also impose an additional fine of up to $10,000 for commission of the crime.

Aggravated kidnapping, including the kidnapping of a child under the age of 13, is punished more severely than its non-aggravated counterpart and is classified as a "life felony." Such felonies are subject to a sentence of a term of imprisonment in a state penitentiary for life, or a split sentence consisting of at least 25 years in prison followed by probation or community control for the remainder of the person's natural life; and an optional additional fine of up to $15,000.

Offenders who have been previously convicted of a violent felony (or attempt or conspiracy to commit such felony) -- including kidnapping -- face even harsher penalties for subsequent violent felony convictions. Such persons are deemed to be "habitual violent felony offenders" and may be sentenced, in the case of multiple kidnapping convictions, to a term of life in prison, with no eligibility for release for 15 years.

Florida Kidnapping Statute

Kidnapping Offenses

Florida Statutes Section 787.01

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Florida criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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