NJ Kidnapping Lawyer
New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Helps Clients Fight Kidnapping Charges
Anyone accused of kidnapping in New Jersey needs a qualified NJ kidnapping lawyer on their side. That’s because a kidnapping charge is one of the most serious violent threat crime charges that a person can face in New Jersey. A conviction under the NJ kidnapping statute is likely to result in significant prison time, as well as a permanent criminal record that could haunt the offender for a very long time even after they finish serving their prison sentence. Moreover, it is important to understand just how easily an otherwise normal disagreement between two individuals can escalate into a kidnapping offense. That’s because the NJ criminal code is often interpreted broadly by prosecutors and judges so that a person can be arrested and charged with kidnapping even if they did not forcibly abduct someone. In fact, most kidnapping cases in New Jersey involve child custody disputes where one parent takes their child without first informing the other parent.
If you have been charged with kidnapping in Hackensack, Paramus, Elmwood Park, or anywhere else in New Jersey, then NJ criminal defense attorney Frank T. Luciano can help you. Contact Mr. Luciano now to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.
N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1 – New Jersey Kidnapping Statute
As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1 of the New Jersey criminal code, law enforcement authorities can charge a person with kidnapping if that person:
- Holds someone for ransom, reward, or as a hostage. It is illegal to unlawfully remove another person from a place. This restriction is broad enough to include all kinds of conduct and gives NJ prosecutors a great deal of leeway to bring kidnapping charges. Additionally, it is illegal to unlawfully confine another person with the purpose of holding that person for ransom or reward, or for the purpose of using that person as a shield or hostage.
- Holds someone for other purposes. The NJ kidnapping law goes even further to include general conduct that involves unlawfully removing another person from their place of residence or business. Beyond that, the statute also makes illegal to unlawfully confine another person for a substantial period of time with the purpose to facilitate the commission of a crime, to inflict bodily injury on a person, to terrorize a person, to interfere with the performance of a governmental function, or to deprive a parent or guardian of custody of their child.
The New Jersey kidnapping law is meant to apply to a wide variety of potentially illegal conduct, which is why law enforcement and prosecutors often rely on the kidnapping statute to bring serious criminal charges against offenders.
What Are the Penalties for Kidnapping in New Jersey?
The NJ criminal code classifies kidnapping as a first degree crime (i.e., felony). Most first degree crimes in New Jersey are typically punishable by a sentence of 10-20 years in NJ state prison, but the kidnapping statute recognizes the crime of kidnapping as a special kind of first degree crime and imposes enhanced penalties of 15-30 years in NJ state prison.
Moreover, since kidnapping is one of the violent crimes listed in the No Early Release Act (NERA), anyone convicted of kidnapping in New Jersey is required by law to serve at least 85 percent of any sentence imposed by the court – there will be no eligibility for early release on parole.
The statute does allow for a reduction in the charge if the offender released the victim unharmed and in a safe place prior to being apprehended by law enforcement. In such circumstances, the crime of kidnapping is classified as a second degree crime and is punishable by a sentence of 5-10 years in NJ state prison.
Enhanced Penalties for Kidnapping Offenses Involving Minors in NJ
NJ lawmakers took very seriously the dangers posed to minors who are victimized in kidnapping offenses, so they allow for the imposition of even more severe penalties when the victim is a minor. Under certain circumstances involving a victim under the age of 16, an offender can be sentenced to an even longer minimum term of imprisonment:
- A crime of sexual assault under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2 is committed against the underage victim.
- A crime of criminal sexual contact under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3 is committed against the underage victim.
- A crime of child endangerment under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4 is committed against the underage victim.
- The offender unlawfully sells or delivers the underage victim to another person for financial gain.
In all of these instances, the offender is subject to a minimum mandatory term of incarceration of 25 years, during which there will be no parole eligibility. Moreover, the maximum allowable sentence in these unique types of kidnapping cases is life imprisonment.
Related Charges: Kidnapping & Interference with Custody in Paramus, NJ
A lot of NJ kidnapping charges stem from the unlawful taking of a child in connection with a custody dispute. However, a charge for parental kidnapping does not always carry the same penalties as an ordinary kidnapping charge. When a parent or guardian involved in a custody dispute violates a court order by taking their child, authorities may bring charges against the offender for interference with custody, as opposed to charges for kidnapping. Interference with custody is considered a third degree crime in New Jersey, which means that it can still result in significant prison time for the offender. A conviction on third degree interference with custody charges carries a sentence of 3-5 years in NJ state prison.
An interference with custody charge can be elevated from a third degree offense to a second degree offense when the offender abducted a child and did at least one of the following:
- Held the child victim for more than 24 hours.
- Took the child victim out of the United States.
A conviction on second degree interference with custody charges can lead to the offender being sentenced to 5-10 years in NJ state prison.
Related Charges in NJ: Kidnapping, Carjacking, and Weapons Offenses
The nature of kidnapping offenses means that they tend to involve other violent crimes, threat crimes, and weapons offenses. For instance, when an offender steals a car and then drives off while a victim remains in the motor vehicle, then the offender could be charged with both carjacking and kidnapping. If the carjacking offense involved the use of a deadly weapon like a handgun, then the offender could be charged with kidnapping and multiple gun crimes.
Additionally, keep in mind that the sentences in these cases can usually be imposed consecutively. This means that a defendant convicted of multiple crimes could face an extremely long term of imprisonment, with one sentence stacked on top of the other.
Fort Lee Criminal Defense Lawyer Helps You Contest Your NJ Kidnapping Charges
If you have been accused of kidnapping in New Jersey, the good news is that a qualified NJ criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges and avoid the most severe penalties. Depending on the factual circumstances of your case, it may be possible to get the charges downgraded to a lesser offense such as criminal restraint or false imprisonment. In some cases, it may even be possible to get your kidnapping charges dismissed entirely before trial. For instance, the NJ kidnapping law provides for a number of affirmative defenses:
- The defendant reasonably believed that taking an underage victim was necessary to keep the victim safe from imminent danger. It is usually necessary for the defendant to have notified local police, the county prosecutor, or the NJ Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS).
- In a case involving an underage victim, the defendant reasonably believed that the victim’s parent had consented to the taking.
- The defendant took his or her own child with the child’s volition. In these cases, the child must be at least 14 years old.
New Jersey criminal defense attorney Frank T. Luciano understands the nuances of the NJ criminal code, including the kidnapping laws. He also knows how to raise these affirmative defenses, as well as other defenses, on behalf of clients charged with kidnapping offenses. To learn more about what to expect when you hire Mr. Luciano for your kidnapping case, view the Client Testimonials section on this website.
Contact Elmwood Park Kidnapping Attorney Frank T. Luciano Today
The best way to ensure that your rights are protected in a New Jersey kidnapping case is to have a knowledgeable lawyer on your side early in the legal process. Frank T. Luciano is an NJ criminal defense lawyer with decades of experience in courts throughout New Jersey, including Bergen County, Passaic County, and Hudson County. Start your defense today by calling or emailing Mr. Luciano.