The Law on Kidnapping/Abduction in Florida and its Punishments
Kidnapping is a commonly committed crime throughout the world. It is the act of abducting someone and holding them hostage.
The perpetrator may use either force or weapons to unlawfully transport and confine a person against their will. It is also known as false imprisonment by means of abduction, forced disappearance, and Shanghaiing.
Kidnapping laws in the United States are based on English Common Law.
The moment a victim is transported through state lines, federal charges are applicable as well.
To tackle kidnapping and abduction throughout the United States, systems such as the AMBER Alert system have been instituted to facilitate coordination between law enforcement agencies and the public.
What is kidnapping under Florida’s statute?
Section 787.01 of Florida’s statute declares: Kidnapping is forcible, by threat, or secret action, of confining, abducting, or imprisonment of another human being against his or her will in the absence of lawful authority.
This is commonly committed with intent to
- Hold for ransom or hostage
- Further, facilitate another felony
- Inflict terror or bodily harm on another individual
- Interfere with any governmental or political function
Kidnapping in Florida is defined broadly enough to cover holding an individual in detention under circumstances more than merely incidental, as an act of detention that substantially reduces the chances of the individual being detected for the purposes of committing another felony and making said felony easier to commit.
Types of kidnapping
Kidnapping has a long history internationally. It has historically been used as a tool by criminal groups to obtain either slave for forced labor and/or for money via ransom.
It is estimated that criminal terrorist groups use kidnapping as their primary means of acquiring funding, averaging $500 million annually.
There are three types of kidnapping:
- Bride kidnapping
- Express kidnapping
Wherein the victim is often coerced to immediately hand over money, usually from the victim’s own ATM account. The kidnapper in question thus confines the victim, demanding monetary compensation in exchange for freedom.
- Tiger kidnapping
A more complex form of kidnapping. The captor abducts either a human being or possession highly valued by the victim and demands a second crime be committed by the victim in exchange for the release of the aforementioned human being or possession.
Thus, the kidnapped individual or possession is held hostage by the captors until their demands have been met.
The victims of tiger kidnapping are coerced to commit crimes in exchange for the release of their loved ones/possessions.
The captor thus avoids dirtying their hands of committing the second crime and also reduces the chances of the victim reporting the captor to the authorities.
As the victims are forced to dirty their hands by committing crimes, they are fearful of incriminating themselves and are less willing to cooperate with law agencies as a result.
Terms and Punishment for Abduction in Florida
- Kidnapping is a first-degree felony under Florida’s laws.
- The terms of the first-degree felony impose a life sentence and fines as punishment.
- The fine imposed is limited to $15,000.
- It ranks as a Level 9 offense under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. Under this, kidnapping is subject to a minimum imprisonment of 4 years, with the possibility of extension to the statutory maximum of life imprisonment.
- A history of previous criminal behavior and criminal convictions allows the judge to impose a life sentence without the possibility of release for 15 years. Previous offenders are labeled “habitually violent felony offenders”.
- Punishment for aggravated kidnapping:
- Kidnapping children under the age of 13 while under the possession of a dangerous firearm that is displayed or used carries far more severe punishments. This has the distinction of the classification “a life felony”.
- Imprisonment in a state penitentiary for life is the norm here.
- In particular cases, the judge might impose a split sentence where the guilty serves a minimum of 25 years in prison followed by probation for the rest of the guilty party’s natural life.