Kidnapping is a delicate issue with a stigma of negativity often exacerbated by the media and popular detective TV shows. However, sadly the people involved are often parents, relatives, or guardians of the victim and the circumstances are both emotionally and legally complicated – such as in a divorce.
If you have been charged with kidnapping or a related offense and believe you were operating fully within your rights you could be eligible under the Texas Penal Code for a reduction or dismissal of your charges. An experienced Dallas violent crimes attorney will be able to examine your case and fight for a more favorable outcome.
Kidnapping Defense Lawyer in Plano, Allen, Frisco, and McKinney, TX
The legal team at the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy is passionate about defending cases like yours and has over two decades of combined criminal defense experience. If you have been charged with a kidnapping-related offense in Plano, McKinney, Frisco, Allen, or any of the surrounding areas schedule your free consultation with The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today.
A kidnapping charge doesn’t have to mean a conviction. McConathy and his team will fight to protect your rights. Call (469) 304-3422 or use our online contact form today for your free consultation.
Restraint vs. Abduct in Texas Law
In the Texas code, there are two very important terms to keep in mind when considering the magnitude of your case. The difference between the terms could mean the difference in what you are charged with and how your case is handled.
Restraint – Texas Penal Code defines restraint as restricting a person’s movement by confining him or her in a certain space and/or moving them from one place to another – both without the individual’s consent. A lack of consent is present if given directly by the victim; the victim is under 14 and his or her parents or guardians have not consented; or if the victim is between 14-17 and is taken either out of state or beyond a 120-mile radius from his or residence
Abduction – Texas Penal Code defines abduction as taking someone with or without his or her consent and preventing rescue by threatening violence and/or hiding the individual.
These terms have a big impact on whether you are charged with a serious felony or a lesser offense, as well as whether or not your case has the potential to be dismissed. It is recommended that you contact an experienced Dallas kidnapping attorney very soon to evaluate your case in relation to these terms.
Types of Kidnapping in Texas
The purpose of defining restraint and abduction in the Texas Penal Code is to provide better clarity for the four different categories of kidnapping and how they should be charged. These four categories of kidnapping-related offenses are:
Class A Misdemeanor – Restraint without consent as defined in §20.02 of the Texas Penal Code
State Jail Felony – Victim of unlawful restraint is under 17
Third-Degree Felony – Defendant allegedly recklessly endangered the restrained person, or the restrained person was a public servant
State Jail Felony – Defendant allegedly abducted individuals (as defined in §20.01) so they are hidden from law enforcement and there is a significant risk of individual suffering serious bodily injury or death
Third-Degree Felony – Kidnapping alone has the simple definition of the alleged defendant abducting the victim as defined in Texas State Penal Code § 20.01.
First-Degree Felony – In addition to abduction, the defendant must have also allegedly held the victim for ransom, hostage, leveraging, or human shield; terrorized, inflicted bodily harm or sexual abuse, or used a deadly weapon on the victim; and/or interfered with government or political function
Second-Degree Felony – Possible when the defendant allegedly released the victim voluntarily to a safe place
All of these offenses have a large impact on your future livelihood and freedom and should be taken extremely seriously. Depending on different factors in the case, such as your relationship to the alleged victim, there may be mitigating circumstances that change the severity of the charges. An experienced Metroplex kidnapping defense lawyer will be able to meticulously review your case and fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Potential Penalties for Kidnapping Offenses in Texas
The following are the maximum consequences for a conviction of a kidnapping or related offense in the state of Texas:
Class A Misdemeanor
- Simple unlawful restraint
- $4,000 fine
- 1 year of jail and/or probation
State Jail Felony
- Unlawful restraint of a minor
- Simple unlawful transport
- $10,000 fine
- 2 years of jail and/or probation
- Unlawful restraint with reckless endangerment of victim
- Unlawful restraint of public servant
- $10,000 fine
- 10 years of jail and/or probation
- Aggravated kidnapping with the voluntary release of the victim
- $10,000 fine
- 20 years of jail and/or probation
- Aggravated kidnapping
- $10,000 fine
- 99 years of jail and/or probation
There are several mitigating circumstances allowed for in the Texas code, including the ages of the defendant and the victim, their relationship, and whether any violence or ulterior motives were present. It is important to contact an experienced Fort Worth kidnapping lawyer to determine if any of these circumstances apply in order for a case reduction or dismissal.
Collin County Kidnapping Resources
Preventing Abductions (for Parents) – Nemours Kidshealth — This website focuses on the reality of child abductions by reminding us that most kids who are reported missing have run away or there has been a misunderstanding with their parents about where they were supposed to be; of the kids and teens who are truly abducted, most are taken by a family member or an acquaintance; 25% of kids are taken by strangers; almost all kids kidnapped by strangers are taken by men, and about two-thirds of stranger abductions involve female children; most abducted kids are in their teens, and kids are rarely abducted from school grounds.
When it comes to preventing abductions, the website recommends it is wise to make sure custody documents are in order; have ID-like photos taken of your kids every 6 months, and have them fingerprinted. Many local police departments sponsor fingerprinting programs; keep your kids’ medical and dental records up to date; make online safety a priority. The Internet is a great tool, but it’s also a place for predators to stalk kids. Be aware of your kids’ Internet activities and chat room “friends,” and remind them never to give out personal information.
Avoid posting identifying information or photos of your kids online; set boundaries about the places your kids go. Supervise them in places like malls, movie theaters, parks, public bathrooms, or while fundraising door to door; never leave kids alone in a car or stroller, even for a minute; choose caregivers — babysitters, childcare providers, and nannies — carefully and check their references. If you’ve arranged for someone to pick up your kids from school or daycare, discuss the arrangements beforehand with your kids and with the school or childcare center; and avoid dressing your kids in clothing with their names on it — children tend to trust adults who know their names.
Steps to Stopping an Abduction in Progress — Visit this State Department website to learn more about steps to take to stop an abduction in progress. Tips to Prevent an Abduction from Occurring include taking action if you think the other parent has taken your child; get a court order or custody decree:
- A clear court order may be the most important preventative measure. For example, court orders may include provisions addressing passports, travel restrictions, or custody; consult an attorney:
- We strongly encourage parents to consult with an attorney regarding their particular circumstances, including the possibility of obtaining an order that prohibits the child from traveling outside of the United States; be aware of warning signs:
- Be on the alert for sudden changes in the other parent’s life, such as quitting a job or selling a home, that may be made in preparation to relocate.
For more information, click on our Resources for Parents page; notify local law enforcement and give them copies of any court orders, including custody, protection, and restraining orders; consider contacting a country’s foreign embassy or consulate if your child is or maybe a dual national of that country. If one parent is a citizen of another country, for example, your child may have claims to a foreign nationality and therefore be able to obtain a passport from that country. See our FAQs for more information on dual nationality, and be aware the United States does not have exit controls or requires two-parent consent for a minor to travel across international borders. Law enforcement may be unable to prevent an abduction without a valid court order clearly prohibiting the child’s travel outside of the United States.
Find A Collin County Defense Attorney for Kidnapping Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Kidnapping is a severe, emotionally-charged offense the state of Texas takes very seriously. If you have been charged with a kidnapping-related offense in the counties of Dallas, Collin, Tarrant, Plano, or the surrounding areas, protect your rights by calling the experienced DFW criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today.