2.5.10 Criminal Defense Newsletter
Over the past few weeks we have learned about common crimes that affect people from all walks of life. This week we are going to learn about a much more serious crime; kidnapping. People are not frequently charged with kidnapping, but when this crime is committed it has very serious consequences. First, we will learn about what must be proven to convict an individual of kidnapping. Then, we will learn the consequences of committing this crime.
In the Commonwealth, kidnapping is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 26. In order for someone to be convicted of kidnapping, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The individual was without lawful authority;
- The individual forcibly or secretly confined or imprisoned another person within the Commonwealth against the victim’s will;
- The offense was committed against the victim’s will.
An individual may also be convicted of kidnapping when the individual forcibly carries the victim out of the Commonwealth instead of forcibly confining or imprisoning them within the Commonwealth. However, this is the least common way of being committed of the crime of kidnapping.
The term “forcibly” means to compel someone to do something against his or her will. It is important to note that the force does not have to be actual force. It may be constructive force as well. A display of potential force is enough to satisfy the definition of constructive force.
The term “confine” means to enclose the victim within bounds or limits. Therefore, the person does not actually have to be tied up or physically restrained. The term “imprison” means to keep in custody or to hold in restraint. Any restraint of a person’s liberty is considered confinement or imprisonment. Also, a victim cannot consent when he or she submits because of fear.
An individual who is convicted of kidnapping can be sentenced to up to 10 years in the state prison or by up to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.00. Kidnapping is a serious crime with serious punishments. However, if there are extenuating circumstances the punishment is increased.
If the kidnapping is committed with the intent to extort money or other valuable items, the punishment is increased, and the individual can be sentenced to a term of up to life in the state prison.
If the individual is armed with a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or assault weapon, he or she can be punished in the state prison for a minimum of 10 years or in the house of correction for up to 2.5 years. In addition to being armed with one of these weapons, if the individual also has the intent to extort money or other valuable things, the punishment is further increased. The individual must serve a minimum of 20 years in state prison and may be sentenced up to life.
If the individual is armed with a dangerous weapon and inflicts serious bodily injury or sexually assaults the victim during the kidnapping, he or she will be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in the state prison. Serious bodily injury means bodily injury that results in permanent disfigurement or the protracted loss or impairment of a bodily function.
If the victim is under the age of 16, the punishment is increased to up to 15 years in the state prison.