Freedom is a foundational right in the United States, and freedom is not to be taken away from anyone, by the state or by others. Thus, in addition to having limits on governmental power, the State of Arizona makes kidnapping a crime to ensure no one’s freedom is abridged by others.
Kidnapping is a crime under A.R.S. §13-1304 (applicable to the Metro Phoenix area as well as the entire State of Arizona) and is defined as “knowingly restraining another person” intending to hold the person for reasons such as collecting ransom, using the person as a shield, inflicting serious harm or killing the person, interrupting a political event, or to take control of a plane, bus, or other vehicle.
Often, kidnapping charges come within the definition of A.R.S. §13-1304 because a hostage is taken to “aid in the commission of a felony.” Whatever the reason, a kidnapping charge is extremely serious, and you need competent legal representation to get a fair trial.
Potential Penalties for Kidnapping
Due to the serious nature of the charge, kidnapping carries heavy penalties if you are convicted. Typically, kidnapping is considered a class two (2) felony, with the sentence varying based on factors such as whether the victim was injured or whether a dangerous weapon was used. If a deadly weapon — a simulated gun, club, knife, or gun — was used in the commission of the kidnapping, a first-time offender will face between seven (7) and twenty-one (21) years in prison, with a presumptive term of ten and a half (10.5) years. Meanwhile, second-time felony offenders face a sentence of between fourteen (14) and twenty-eight (28) years in prison, with a presumptive sentence of fifteen years and nine months (15.75 years). Those with two prior felony convictions will face a prison sentence of between twenty-one (21) and thirty-five (35) years, with a presumptive sentence of twenty-eight (28) years.
Even where an abduction occurred without the use of a deadly weapon, the penalties are serious. A first-time offender faces a prison sentence of between three (3) and twelve and a half (12.5) years in prison or up to one (1) year in jail with probation. The penalties increase significantly with prior felony convictions, so a third-time offender faces up to thirty-five (35) years in prison, but no less than ten and a half (10.5) years.
Other circumstances affecting sentencing include how the victim is released; if that is accomplished without injury and in a safe place before arrest, kidnapping is classified as a class four (4) felony. Punishment for first-time offenders is up to eight (8) years in prison if a deadly weapon was used, or up to three years, nine months (3.75 years) in prison if a deadly weapon was not used, where the alleged victim is released through an agreement with the state but after a goal of the kidnapping was accomplished, a class three (3) felony results. The punishment for a first-time offender is up to fifteen (15) years in prison if a deadly weapon was used, or up to eight years, nine months (8.75 years) if a deadly weapon was not used.
Potential Defenses to Kidnapping Charges
In Arizona, kidnapping charges tend to be brought rather liberally, and you will need a skilled defense team to fight the false charges of abduction. As such, defenses such as lack of intent to achieve a statute-listed goal (such as securing ransom, hijacking a vehicle, etc.) can be effective. Often, these charges arise in domestic disputes, where one parent alleges the other “kidnapped” their child. However, the charges are not valid if the parent taking the child did not do so in an attempt to perform one of the acts listed in A.R.S. §13-1304. By interviewing family friends and witnesses about the event and the nature of the parental relationship, DM Cantor can help establish this defense.
Our team can also help you fight these charges with other defenses such as Miranda rights violations, meaning you were force or tricked into making a statement incriminating yourself, or denial of the right to counsel, where the police question you without allowing you to speak to your lawyer. Those defenses allow our team to suppress any evidence gathered as a result of those violations. Additionally, DM Cantor will closely scrutinize evidence for indications of forensic flaws, improperly completed police reports, inaccurate statements, invalid search warrants, and other police errors.
DM Cantor is an AV®-rated law firm, the highest peer rating available from Martindale Hubbell®. David Michael Cantor is an Arizona-certified Criminal Law Specialist per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization, and the entire firm is a part of the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. Additionally, many of our lawyers are former prosecutors, which gives our firm unparalleled insight into criminal litigation. For a free consultation, call the firm at 602-737-2812 or use our secure, confidential web form.