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Maryland Kidnapping Criminal Defense Lawyers

Felony convictions of kidnapping come with decades of jail time – often for simple misunderstandings between the parties involved. Keep your freedom and your reputation free of kidnapping charges with help from JC Law.

What Does Maryland Law Define As “Kidnapping”?

Maryland’s criminal laws define kidnapping as when the accused causes – either “by force or fraud” – another to be “carried” into or out of Maryland, with the express intent of either transporting or hiding them in or out of Maryland.

Admittedly, that definition is a bit convoluted.

Basically, to convict a defendant the prosecution must prove that:

  • The victim’s freedom was restricted or restrained in some way
  • The act was against the victim’s will
  • The accused did or caused the “carrying” – the movement – to occur

If you abduct someone against their will or otherwise hide them from others, then a kidnapping charge is possible.

How Is Child Kidnapping Different Than Regular Kidnapping? Is That The Same As Parental Kidnapping?

Child kidnapping is a specific part of the Maryland criminal code. It’s the same as regular kidnapping – taking and hiding someone that they shouldn’t – with a few extra qualifiers involved that make things worse for the defendant.

  • The victim must be 16 years of age or less.
  • The victim’s parent or guardian does not permit the child’s removal from their home.
  • The accused either actively kidnapped or helped hide or kidnap the child with the express purpose of “depriving” their parent or guardian of “custody, care, and control of the child.”

“Parental kidnapping” usually occurs during a domestic dispute of some sort, especially when custody is shared between two parties.

Any sort of deviation from a court-ordered physical custody or visitation agreement can trigger kidnapping charges – as well as contempt of court accusations – from one parent against the next.

Parental kidnapping can technically happen with something as innocent as surprising a child with a multi-day trip and forgetting to tell their other guardian where you would be going. Even if it’s during your “normal” visitation time, the other party still needs to know where they are, per a court agreement.

“Disappearing,” even for an innocent and fun reason, can result in parental kidnapping charges being filed – especially if you don’t have good criminal defense representation to stop investigations sooner rather than later.

When Is Kidnapping A Federal Charge Instead Of A State Charge?

Federal law enforcement becomes involved when a kidnapping happens over state lines – triggering the “Commerce Clause” jurisdiction that supersedes state law enforcement – or if the parties involved go international.

Let’s return to our hypothetical parental kidnapping case where one parent surprises shared-custody kids with a trip to Disney World and doesn’t tell the other party.

Because the homes of both parents are in Maryland but the trip to Disney World is in Florida, this would be a federal – not a Maryland state – kidnapping case.

Federal kidnapping charges can also be filed if the parties live in separate states. So, if someone in Virginia was dating someone in Maryland and later abducted them in Washington, D.C., then this kidnapping case would also require federal charges to be filed.

What Is Maryland’s Punishment For Kidnapping?

As with other criminal charges, sentences can increase if kidnapping convictions are coupled with other illegal crimes.

  • General kidnapping sentences go up to 30 years in jail as a felon.
  • Child kidnapping sentences start at up to 20 years in jail. If child kidnapping charges are coupled with convicted sex offenses, sentences can go as high 30 years without the possibility of parole.

How Can A Criminal Defense Lawyer Help With Kidnapping Charges?

It’s amazing, how many “kidnapping” cases are the result of misunderstandings between the parties involved.

Defendants can be blindsided with charges that they never would have expected coming, and think to “cooperate” with law enforcement.

After all, they’re innocent – why shouldn’t they talk with a friendly detective?

Because the detective is looking for every shred of evidence they can get to put the accused behind bars.

Involving a criminal defense lawyer experienced in kidnapping cases right from the start can clear the air of such misunderstandings before charges are even filed.

And, if it’s necessary, your defense lawyer will fight in court to show your side of the story to a judge and jury to protect your freedom and your reputation.

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