California “Kidnapping” Law – Penal Code 207 PC

June 18, 2015

In California, kidnapping is charged under penal code 207 pc making it unlawful to hold or detain another person with force or fear and move them without their consent. Depending on the circumstances, a person convicted of kidnapping could face 3 years in state prison or life without parole. It is a violent felony applicable to California’s Three Strike laws.


Elements of Kidnapping

According to CALCRIM 1215, in order for someone to be found guilty of kidnapping under PC 207, the prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Defendant took, held, or detained another person using force or reasonable fear;

2. While using force or fear, Defendant moved the other person a substantial distance;

3. The other person did not consent to the movement;

4. Defendant did not reasonable believe the other person consented to the movement.

Legal Defenses to Kidnapping – Penal Code 207 PC

• You did not move or cause to move another person a substantial distance. This defense is measured under all the circumstances.

• The movement of another was merely incidental

• The other person was not under the age of 14 years old

• You had consent or movement was agreed by the alleged victim

• You reasonably believed you had consent to move the other person

• The victim was not reasonably placed in force or fear of harm

• The victim is falsifying or substantially exaggerating the circumstances

Punishment & Sentencing

PC 207 is punishable in the state prison for 3, 5, or 8 years. However, if the alleged victim is under the age of 14, then you face 5, 8, or 11 years in state prison. If the purported victim sustains great bodily injury, or there is a demand for ransom, or the kidnapping was carried out to commit an enumerated sex crime, then you face life in prison.

Mitigating Factors to Kidnapping

Extraordinary circumstances may permit a person to do their time in the local county jail versus spending time in state prison for a kidnapping conviction and a defendant will be placed on formal probation for a period. This however is rare so much that the statute governing kidnapping the following, “..except in unusual cases..” In this instance, the judge must find that the interests of justice would best be served by a lesser penalty of up to 12 months in the county jail versus spending a substantial amount of time in state prison. Factors the judge will consider is your prior criminal record, the exact motive for carrying out the offense, who would be impacted by a defendant spending time in prison; and whether you portray a character capable for being reformed.

Examples of Kidnapping

Dan was walking down the street and pulled out a knife and held up Vic and demanded that she hand over her purse and money. Because he noticed people approaching a few blocks away, he told Vic to walk to the corner alley approximately 20 feet away where he could complete the theft without anyone other than Vic noticing. Vic handed over her purse and money because she believed Dan would harm her. Dan grabbed the purse and money and ran down the street. Minutes later Dan was arrested and charged with kidnapping. In this case, Dan’s defense attorney would argue that the movement of Vic was merely incidental to the robbery itself and therefore Dan would not be guilty of kidnapping.

Dan had just stolen a cellular phone from a store and was in the means of escaping from being caught by security. In an effort to get away, he approached a vehicle at a red light which was being driven by Sally. Dan demanded that Sally get out of the car because he’s taking it. Dan showed Sally his knife and she quickly got out of the car. Before she could do or say anything further, Dan pushed her, got into the car and drove away. Dan was subsequently apprehended by police officers a few miles away. When arrested, Dan noticed Sally’s small child asleep in the backseat of the vehicle. Police officers charged Dan with kidnapping. Here, Dan’s defense lawyer would argue that Dan is not guilty of kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking, which carries a life sentence without the possibility of parole, because he had no knowledge that Sally’s child was in the backseat and thus Dan is not guilty of kidnapping.

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have been arrested, charged, or under investigation for kidnapping under PC 207, then contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers to schedule a free confidential consultation with an experienced Newport Beach criminal defense attorney. We can help provide guidance in mounting your defense and early intervention could mean the difference of serving a prison sentence versus having the case rejected from prosecution altogether.

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