West Chester

Kidnapping Lawyer

Kidnapping is a serious violent crime in Pennsylvania, and law enforcement takes it very seriously. As soon as you learn of the allegations, you should be on the phone with an experienced kidnapping attorney. You’re be confronted with possible prison time, and in some cases, a kidnapping charge is difficult to defend. The facts may seem stacked against you. In others, the circumstances may offer an opportunity to prove that you did nothing wrong. You will not know the strength of the prosecution’s case or your defense options until you speak with a qualified defense attorney.

At Skinner Law Firm, we are passionate about preserving your rights and giving you a chance to tell your story. Attorney Michel J. Skinner keeps the focus on his clients and ensures you are treated fairly throughout the criminal court process. As a former Chester County prosecutor, his knowledge of Pennsylvania criminal law and law enforcement procedures gives you a strong chance to have charges against you reduced, dismissed, or acquitted at trial. Contact Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 or online to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Kidnapping in Pennsylvania

Under 18 PA Cons Stat §2901(a), kidnapping means to unlawfully remove another person a substantial distance under the circumstances from the place where they were found.

You may also be convicted of kidnapping if you unlawfully confine another person for a substantial period in a place of isolation, with any of the following intentions:

  • To hold that person for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage.
  • To facilitate the commission of any felony or flight from the felony.
  • To inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another person.
  • To interfere with the performance of any public official or any governmental or political function.

Moving or isolating a person is unlawful if you allegedly did so by force, threats, or deception.  If the alleged victim is an incapacitated person, then it is unlawful to move or isolate them without the consent of a parent, guardian, or other person in charge of their welfare.

While most kidnapping cases are prosecuted at the state level, kidnapping can also be classified as a federal crime if the movement or isolation of the victim occurred across state borders.

Kidnapping a Minor in PA

A jury can convict you of kidnapping a minor if you unlawfully remove a person younger than 18 a substantial distance under the circumstances from the place they were found. Or, if you unlawfully confine a minor for a substantial period in a place of isolation with the intent to:

  • Hold the minor for ransom or reward or use the minor as a shield or hostage;
  • Facilitate the commission or flight from a felony;
  • Inflict bodily injury on or terrorize the minor or another person; or
  • Interfere with government or political performance.

Removing or confining the minor is unlawful if you allegedly used force, threats, deception, or in the case of a minor younger than 14, without their parent, guardian, or supervisor’s consent.

Can a Parent Kidnap Their Own Child?

Yes, in certain circumstances, a parent can be convicted of kidnapping their biological child, lawfully adopted child, or stepchild.

Prosecutors may bring kidnapping charges against a parent when that parent isolates or moves the child to another place without the legal authority to do so. For example, a parent who has been denied custody or granted limited visitation may pick up their child from school without permission to do so. They may take the child to an unknown location in an attempt to keep that child from the other parent.

If you are a parent who is in legal trouble for taking or keeping your child, contact a kidnapping lawyer immediately. An attorney may be able to persuade the prosecutor to drop the charges or to reduce the charges to interference with custody of a child, unlawful restraint of a minor, or false imprisonment of a minor.

Kidnapping Sentences and Penalties

Kidnapping charges in Pennsylvania are first-degree felonies. You can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

If a jury convicts you of kidnapping, your presumptive sentence is based on Pennsylvania’s sentencing matrix. The matrix requires the judge or jury to identify the Offense Gravity Score (Kidnapping is a 10), and calculate your Prior Record Score, which is based on points assigned to your previous convictions.

The conjunction of Offense Gravity Score and your Prior Record Score provides a judge or jury with a range and type of criminal sentence. The judge may stick to this recommendation, but they are not required to do so. Aggravating or mitigating factors in your case may lead the judge to issue a greater or lesser sentence.


Defending Against Kidnapping Charges

The purpose of hiring an experienced kidnapping attorney is to fully understand your defense options and to put forth the most effective defense strategy available.

Possible defenses to kidnapping include:

  • Consent of the alleged victim
  • Lawful right to move or control a child or incapacitated adult
  • Lack of necessary intent
  • False allegations
  • Mistake of identity
  • Duress
  • Entrapment

PA Statute of Limitations on Kidnapping

In Pennsylvania, prosecutors have two years from the date of the alleged kidnapping to obtain an indictment.

A West Chester Kidnapping Lawyer

With so much to lose in a kidnapping case, like your freedom and contact with your children, it is vital to defend yourself. This means working with a skilled defense attorney with specific experience fighting kidnapping charges from the start. At Skinner Law Firm, we have an impressive track record of handling kidnapping cases and providing aggressive legal representation in and around Chester County, PA. Let us investigates the allegations and implement a defense strategy that takes all relevant factors into account. Everything we do will be to avoid the harshest punishments and to secure the best possible result.

When you are facing kidnapping allegations, contact us online or call (610) 436-1410 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.