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DC Federal Kidnapping Lawyer

While most kidnapping charges are prosecuted under state law, some kidnapping incidents may be charged as federal offenses. As a result, if you are facing federal kidnapping charges as opposed to state-level charges, you may be looking at far greater penalties in the event of a conviction.

Getting legal assistance from an experienced Washington DC federal kidnapping lawyer could be invaluable to your defense. With assistance from a seasoned federal criminal attorney, you could have a much easier time investigating the circumstances surrounding your charges, determining the existence of any valid defenses in your case, and selecting the defense strategy that may be most effective in your particular situation.

Defining Kidnapping Under Federal Law

Under 18 U.S. Code §1201, kidnapping is defined as unlawfully seizing, confining, kidnapping, abducting, or carrying away another person and holding that person for ransom or reward. However, kidnapping constitutes a criminal offense pursuant to federal law only in limited circumstances, such as:

  • The kidnapping victim is transported across state lines in interstate or foreign commerce, with the presumption that such transport occurred if the victim is kidnapped and not released for at least 24 hours
  • The kidnapping occurs within the special maritime or aircraft jurisdiction of the United States
  • The kidnapping victim is a foreign official or a federal official
  • The alleged perpetrator uses the U.S. mail system to further the kidnapping

International Parental Kidnapping

There is a separate federal statute that specifically addresses international parental kidnapping. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §1204, it is illegal to remove or attempt to remove a child from the United States—as well as to detain a child outside the U.S.—with the intention of obstructing the lawful exercise of parental rights.

Unlike the general federal kidnapping statute, the international parental kidnapping statute contains affirmative defenses that may be applicable in some cases. For example, it is an affirmative defense if an individual was fleeing an incident or pattern of domestic violence in leaving the country with the child. A Washington DC federal kidnapping attorney could help determine whether these defenses apply to a particular allegation.

Penalties for Federal Kidnapping Offenses

The general sentence for kidnapping under federal law is 20 years in prison. If the kidnapping victim is a child under 18 years of age and the alleged perpetrator is a stranger rather than a family member, then the minimum sentence of incarceration in federal prison is 20 years.

Furthermore, if a kidnapped individual dies during a kidnapping incident, then the potential penalties can include life in prison or the death penalty. For international parental kidnapping cases, the potential penalties may require the payment of a fine, up to three years of incarceration, or both. Given these harsh penalties, retaining a Washington DC lawyer who is experienced with federal kidnapping charges is almost always the right move when facing such an accusation.

How a Washington DC Federal Kidnapping Attorney Could Help

Kidnapping cases can result in high-profile, high-stakes criminal cases, particularly if you are facing federal criminal charges. In this type of case, the consequences are potentially severe with respect to your freedom, your reputation, and your career.

Begin the process of defending yourself against allegations of federal kidnapping by sitting down with a Washington DC federal kidnapping lawyer. A knowledgeable legal professional may be able to give you the advice and counsel that you need in this difficult situation.

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