Recently, a Saugus electrician was arrested on suspicion of domestic assault and kidnapping after he allegedly dragged his wife into his car. According to witnesses, the ordeal began when the suspect demanded his wife get into the car, but she refused. The suspect then got verbally abusive, and the victim tried to run. It was then that the suspect got into the car and pursued the victim, stopping in front and exiting the vehicle to force her into it.
Kidnapping is covered by California Penal Codes 207, 208, 209 and 209.5 PC and is described as moving another person a substantial distance without that person’s consent, using force or fear to do so. This case is interesting as it involves a husband and wife, and kidnapping cases typically don’t do that. However, according to the wording of the law, it doesn’t matter what, if any, relation the victim has to the suspect. Kidnapping is kidnapping if it falls under the stated criteria. Granted, there are a few exceptions, of course. For example, you may have to force your child to get in the car on the way to the dentist, but it’s highly unlikely kidnapping charges are going to result from it.
There are a few other instances in which a person can commit an act that resembles kidnapping, but does not result in kidnapping charges. The first is if you steal, take, conceal or otherwise harbor a child under 14 and do so to protect that child from imminent danger or harm. In situations like this, a suspect would have to be able to prove that the child under 14 was actually in imminent danger, and not just claim that they were. The second situation is when you place the alleged victim under citizen’s arrest.
While seldom used, it is legal to place someone under citizen’s arrest, under the following circumstances:
You witness someone commit a felony
Have reasonable cause to believe that the person committed a felony, or
Know that the person actually committed a felony
Citizen’s arrest, while legal under these circumstances, is a dangerous endeavor and it’s probably better not to get involved. The police have the tools and the know-how to make arrests, and the vast majority of arrests should be left up to them,
Kidnapping is a felony under California law, and it carries the possible penalties of 3, 5, or 8 years in California state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Under certain circumstances, such as kidnapping someone under the age of 14, kidnapping the person with the intention of holding them for ransom, and others, it’s possible to be charged with aggravated kidnapping and receive harsher penalties. These penalties include 5, 8 or 11 years in California state prison, or imprisonment for life with the possibility of parole.