Defending Against an Abduction Charge in Virginia
Abduction and Kidnapping in Virginia Defined
According to Va Code § 18.2-47, abduction and kidnapping are defined in the same way. The law spells out abduction/kidnapping as follows: using force, intimidation, or deception without legal justification; to seize, transport, or detain another person; with the intention to deprive the other person of personal liberty, to withhold or hide that person from any other person, authority, or institution lawfully entitled to their charge, or to subject that person to forced labor.
Intimidation in this case includes “destroying, concealing, confiscating, withholding, or threatening to withhold a passport, immigration document, or other governmental identification or threatening to report another as being illegally present in the United States.”
Penalties for Abduction or Kidnapping
In general, abduction is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail, a $2500 fine, or both. That being said, different laws and penalties apply in the cases of:
Parents abducting their own children. If this occurs and it is punishable by contempt of court in a pending proceeding, then the parent can be convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor if the parent remains in Virginia with the child; penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor include up to one year in jail, a fine of $2500, or both. However, if the parent leaves the Commonwealth with the child, then they can be charged with a Class 6 felony, meaning the parent could face up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $2500, or both, in addition to legal consequences for being held in contempt of court.
People accused of abduction with the intent to extort money or for immoral purposes. This part of the law includes the abduction of any person of any age with the intent to extort money or pecuniary benefit. It also includes the abduction of any person under age with intent to defile that person or for prostitution purposes. Furthermore, the law prohibits the abduction of any child under 16 years of age for purposes of prostitution or concubinage and the abduction of any minor person for the purpose of manufacturing child pornography. These crimes are Class 2 felonies punishable by 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. If the crime involves any of the actions described above (with the exception of financial extortion), and the prison sentence is less than life, then the judge will impose a suspended sentence of at least 40 years in addition to the active sentence. The suspended sentence will remain in effect for the rest of the defendant’s life, unless revoked by the court.
Possible Defenses in a Virginia Abduction Case
Law enforcement acting in official capacity: Virginia law specifically exempts law enforcement officers in the performance of their job duties from abduction crimes.
Consent: You cannot kidnap someone if you had their consent.
Duress: If someone else forced you to abduct someone, that means you acted under duress.
Mistakes in the prosecution’s case: The Commonwealth must prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt for you to be convicted of abduction.
How We Can Help
The Pickett Law Group, PLLC is an experienced law firm with two generations of former prosecutors, who have fought from both sides of the courtroom on all types of legal issues, including Abduction and Kidnapping. Our attorneys can help ensure that you have the best defense possible in your case. Contact us today and we will begin fighting on your behalf.