Texas Kidnapping Laws
Overview of Texas Kidnapping Laws
A defendant has committed the crime of kidnapping if he or she intentionally or knowingly abducts another person. This situation often arises within the divorced or separated family context as well. The most commonly publicized cases involve the kidnapping of a child by one of the child's parents while the child is in the custody of the other parent.
In Texas, the defendant can be convicted of the higher crime of aggravated kidnapping if he or she has committed a kidnapping and had the intent to do one of the following:
- Hold the victim for a ransom or reward;
- Use the victim as a shield or hostage;
- Aid in the commission of a felony or an escape after committing the felony;
- Inflict bodily injury on the victim or sexually violate or abuse the victim;
- Terrorize the victim or another person;
- Interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function;
- Uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the crime.
Defenses to Kidnapping Charges
- The defendant voluntarily released the victim in a safe place (NOTE: This is only a partial defense and may only result in the decrease of the penalty and charge by one degree.)
- Lack of intent to use deadly force
- Lack of knowledge
- The defendant is a relative of the victim
- The defendant's only intent was to gain lawful control of the victim
Penalties and Sentences
Texas kidnapping laws classify the crime as a third degree felony. This carries a penalty of two to ten years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. If the crime is elevated to aggravated kidnapping, the defendant will be charged with a first degree felony. This carries a penalty of five to ninety-nine years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. This penalty may be reduced to being a second degree felony if at the punishment stage of the trial, the defendant can show through the evidence that he or she voluntarily released the victim in a safe place. If that defense succeeds, the penalty imposed may be two to twenty years in a state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Texas Kidnapping Statute
Texas Kidnapping Statute (Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 20, Sections 20.03 - 20.04 -- Scroll down to sections on kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping)
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.