When Is Kidnapping a Federal Crime?

kidnapKidnapping is typically a crime that starts at the state level. Under Illinois Compiled Statutes 720 ILCS 5/10-1, kidnapping is secretly confining someone against their will, or using deceit or secrecy to take a person from one place to another. Due to the fact that this is a state statute, those that violate the law will likely be tried in state court. There are times though, when kidnapping moves from state court and is tried in federal court as a federal crime.

Conditions that Make Kidnapping a Federal Crime

After the historic Lindbergh kidnapping, in which the toddler son of Charles Lindbergh was abducted and killed, the United States Congress enacted the Federal Kidnapping Act. This is often called the Lindbergh Law, or the Little Lindbergh Law. The Act makes kidnapping a federal crime when certain conditions are met. These include:

  • When a child under the age of 16 is taken outside of the country by a non-custodial parent;
  • A foreign official or person with international protection is kidnapped;
  • If the person kidnapped is taken across state lines;
  • If the kidnapping takes place in maritime or aircraft jurisdictions; and/or
  • If the victim is a federal employee

When these conditions are met, the kidnapping charge will advance to a federal charge. Federal crimes are considered to be much more serious than state crimes with harsher penalties sentenced upon conviction.

It is important to note that kidnappings committed by parents of a child will generally be handled at the state level, unless the child is taken out of the country. When this happens and the child is under 16 years old, the offense will be considered a federal crime.

Penalties for Federal Kidnapping

The penalties for federal kidnapping are severe. If convicted, a person could spend up to twenty years in federal prison. Depending on the facts of the case, and whether or not a person has prior convictions, sentences can include more or less time in prison. When the kidnapping results in a death, a person could spend the rest of their life in prison.

Parental kidnappings typically result in less severe punishments. Under a different law, U.S. Code Chapter 55, parents convicted of kidnapping their own child will face three years in prison, even if the child was taken out of the country.

Contact a Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer to Beat Kidnapping Charges

Being charged with kidnapping, particularly on a federal level, is extremely difficult and can seem hopeless. However, it is not. Those convicted simply need the experience of a skilled Illinois federal criminal defense attorney to help them with their case. If you have been charged with kidnapping, contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel at 312-629-0669. We will review the evidence in your case, identify issues with the government’s case, and negotiate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office when needed. We have the experience necessary to deal with these cases, and we want to help you with yours. Call for your free consultation so we can begin reviewing your case.

Sources:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1201

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K10-1

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