When you hear that someone was kidnapped, what images come to mind? Do you think of a ski-mask-wearing bad guy forcing a victim into his vehicle at gunpoint? What about an adult grabbing a child off the street and speeding away? Recently, a Canyon Country man found out the hard way that kidnapping in California has a very broad definition.
On the morning of Wednesday, March 6, deputies responded to a domestic violence incident near a business on Soledad Canyon Road. According to witnesses, the incident began with a man and woman getting into an argument, and then the man allegedly grabbed the woman by the arm and forced her into his vehicle against her will. Deputies responding to the scene were able to locate the suspect relatively quickly and he was quickly arrested and on suspicion of kidnapping and domestic battery.
Kidnapping is covered under various California Penal Codes, including: 207, 208, 209, and 209.5. Each penal code deals with different situations, but in general, a person can be charged with kidnapping when they move someone else a substantial distance, without that person’s consent, and by using force, fraud or fear to do so. In the case of the Canyon Country suspect above, grabbing his girlfriend by the arm and forcing her into his vehicle likely qualified as “use of force or fear.”
It’s important to note that a person’s intent when they allegedly kidnap someone is irrelevant. A suspect doesn’t need to intend to assault, injure, ransom, or otherwise harm their victim in order to be charged with simple kidnapping. The crime occurs when the victim is moved a substantial distance against their will by the use of force, fraud, or fear. However, if an individual does kidnap someone for ransom or with other intentions in mind, it can upgrade their charge from simple kidnapping to aggravated kidnapping.
The penalties for kidnapping depend on the circumstances of the case. Simple kidnapping, for example, is a felony for which the penalties include 3, 5, or 8 years in California state prison, and/or a maximum fine of $10,000. If convicted of aggravated kidnapping and the victim was a child under 14, the prison sentence is increased to 5, 8, or 11 years in state prison. The penalty is increased to a life sentence with the possibility of parole if the kidnapping occurred with the specific intent to ransom the victim, extort them, use them in a variety of sex crimes, or carjacking.
The suspect in the Canyon Country incident is likely being charged with simple kidnapping, though the additional charge of domestic battery could end up increasing his jail time, if convicted.