Though kidnapping charges are fairly uncommon, they are extremely serious for the individual being accused. Devastating criminal penalties can result from a kidnapping conviction in Utah, even if the people allegedly involved are parent and child, husband and wife, or share other relationships.
If you or one of your loved ones was charged with kidnapping in Salt Lake City, Bountiful, Layton, Ogden, Orem, Provo, Riverton, South Jordan, St. George, Taylorsville, West Valley City, or other locations in Utah, it is critically important that you are represented by a skilled and aggressive defense attorney who possesses the knowledge and experience necessary to effectively handle felony cases. The charges against you are very severe, so do not wait to seek legal representation until it is already too late to start building your defense strategy. Call the law offices of Overson & Sheen immediately at (801) 895-3143 for a free and confidential legal consultation.
Contact an Experienced Salt Lake City Defense Lawyer
Kidnapping is a felony under Utah’s criminal code. If you are convicted of this offense, you could be sentenced to imprisonment for years, decades, or even the rest of your life. When you are facing such dire legal circumstances, it is absolutely critical that you protect your rights and reputation by retaining the services of a qualified criminal lawyer who has extensive experience handling kidnapping cases in Utah.
Salt Lake City defense attorney Darwin Overson has more than 16 years of experience representing men, women, and teenagers charged with kidnapping and related felonies. Armed with substantial trial experience and years of accumulated knowledge and skill, Darwin Overson is firmly committed to upholding your Constitutional rights. When you are represented by Darwin, you can expect to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion while we fight tirelessly for justice on your behalf.
Though based in Salt Lake County, Darwin Overson handles kidnapping cases throughout the state of Utah, including Box Elder County, Cache County, Davis County, Summit County, Tooele County, Utah County, Washington County, Weber County, and more. If your family member was arrested and is being detained at a county jail or holding center anywhere in Utah, such as the Salt Lake City County Jail, Darwin can arrange to make an emergency attorney visit.
Different Types of Utah Kidnapping Charges: Child Abduction and Aggravated Offenses
The term “kidnapping” evokes frightening mental images of unwary children being lured into cars by menacing strangers. In reality, the overwhelming majority of kidnapping cases are very different. Most accusations of kidnapping actually involve the alleged victim’s family members or loved ones, and can often be traced back to domestic disturbances and/or child custody battles between divorced or divorcing parents. Unfortunately, it is not unheard-of to be accused of “kidnapping” by a former spouse or lover, when in reality nothing of the sort occurred.
Indeed, documented instances of kidnapping are very rare in Utah. Just compare the following statistics from the 2012 Crime in Utah Report compiled by the Department of Public Safety:
- Logan – 45 sex offenses vs. 1 kidnapping
- Salt Lake City – 4,660 assaults vs. 88 kidnappings
- West Valley City – 889 burglaries vs. 101 kidnappings
There are three different types of kidnapping offenses in Utah:
- Aggravated Kidnapping
- Child Kidnapping
Each of these crimes have different definitions, individual components of which are called “elements of the offense.” The prosecutor needs to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the defendant to be convicted of the crime.
Kidnapping is prosecuted under Utah Code § 76-5-301. A person can be charged with kidnapping if he or she commits any of the following actions (1) intentionally, (2) illegally, and (3) against the other person’s will:
- Detaining or restraining the victim “for any substantial period of time.”
- Detaining or restraining the victim in a way that could have caused physical injury.
- Detaining or restraining a victim aged 14, 15, 16, or 17 without his or her parents’ consent.
- Forcing the victim into servitude.
- Moving the victim across state lines, or over a “substantial distance.”
- Committing any of the above acts against a mentally incompetent person, if such acts were committed against the will of the person’s guardian.
Aggravated kidnapping is prosecuted under Utah Code § 76-5-302. Put simply, aggravated kidnapping is kidnapping plus additional factors that make the crime more serious. These factors include:
- Intent to hold the victim hostage, or use them to obtain a ransom.
- Intent to prevent the discovery of another felony.
- Intent to commit a sexual offense against the victim.
- Use or threatened use of a “dangerous weapon,” broadly defined as any item which can cause death or serious injury. Even an imitation, such as a fake gun, can be considered a dangerous weapon.
Child kidnapping is prosecuted under Utah Code § 76-5-301.1. By Utah’s definition, a child is any person aged 13 or younger. It is child kidnapping to “seize, confine, detain, or transport” a child if the act is performed (1) intentionally, (2) illegally, and (3) without the parent’s consent.
What is the Prison Sentence for Kidnapping in Utah? Is it a Felony Crime?
Every Utah crime is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Though both are serious, felonies are crimes of a greater degree, which means convicted defendants will be subject to much tougher penalties than the penalties for a misdemeanor. While misdemeanor jail sentences are capped at one year, felony sentences can last for decades.
There are three types of non-capital felonies in the state of Utah:
- First Degree Felonies
- Second Degree Felonies
- Third Degree Felonies
The lower the number, the more serious the crime – and the harsher the criminal consequences.
Kidnapping is a second degree felony under Utah Code § 76-5-301(3). The penalties may include a prison sentence ranging from one to 15 years, and a criminal fine of up to $10,000.
Aggravated kidnapping and child kidnapping are both first degree felonies. In addition to a potential fine of up to $10,000, sentencing possibilities for these offenses include:
- 6 years to life in prison
- 10 years to life in prison
- 15 years to life in prison
- Life in prison without the possibility of parole (release)
Utah Criminal Attorneys Representing Defendants Arrested for Kidnapping
If you are convicted of committing a felony – especially a felony like kidnapping that involves acting against another person’s will – your future could be altered forever. Felony convictions frequently result in extremely long prison sentences, financially devastating fines and restitution, and an assortment of other harsh penalties and deprivations. For example, you could lose your rights to carry a firearm for life.
Unfortunately, many former felons find they are met with enormous challenges — even months or years after the court-ordered penalties have subsided. Employers often hesitate to hire individuals with felony records, and your history may even prevent you from being permitted to live in certain communities or facilities. A criminal conviction can take away your most basic freedoms, place you under heavy financial strain, and destroy your personal and professional relationships. If you are facing kidnapping charges, you need to act fast before it’s too late.
If you have been charged with kidnapping in Salt Lake City or other areas of Utah, or if you believe that you are under investigation, it is not in your best interests to face prosecutors or police officers on your own. Get immediate legal assistance from a trusted, knowledgeable, and aggressive kidnapping attorney in Utah today. For a free and confidential legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson & Sheen at (801) 895-3143.