When Kidnapping Becomes a Federal Crime

The State of Florida defines “kidnapping” as “forcibly, secretly, or by threat confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person against her or his will and without lawful authority.” Normally, a kidnapping case would be prosecuted at the state level. Under certain circumstances, however, a kidnapping case falls under federal jurisdiction, where penalties vary to reflect the severity of the crime. 

Below, we discuss these penalties as well as the remaining options for anyone charged with kidnapping. If you have been accused of kidnapping, you will be facing an uphill struggle to prove your innocence and safeguard your freedom. Consult a federal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg from the Rickman Law Firm who can build a successful defense around your case. 

The Extent of Federal Jurisdiction 

In the State of Florida, there were 776 arrests for kidnapping and abduction in 2018. Kidnapping is a first-degree felony in Florida and punishable by up to life in prison. The specific circumstances under which kidnapping becomes a federal crime involve the following instances where the victim is: 

  • Deliberately taken across state lines or outside U.S. territory
  • A foreign official or otherwise internationally protected person
  • A federal officer or employee
  • Under the age of 16 and taken by a parent out of the U.S. 

Federal jurisdiction also extends to kidnappings that occur within U.S. special maritime and territorial jurisdiction or U.S. special aircraft jurisdiction. Those who are convicted of kidnapping can be imprisoned for up to 20 years — that is, unless the victim is an unrelated minor, in which case, the penalties are far more severe. 

The Kidnapping of Children

Generally, kidnapping doesn’t apply to minors who have been taken by a parent. But that doesn’t mean that federal laws don’t protect children. Commonly known as the Lindbergh Law, the Federal Kidnapping Act was designed to allow federal authorities to pursue kidnappers across state lines. Named after the famous kidnapping of Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., this law provides special rules for cases that involve the abduction of minors. 

Under federal law, a person found guilty of kidnapping will be imprisoned for no less than 20 years. This is not something to take lightly. If you’ve been charged with federal kidnapping, you could easily be sentenced to life in prison.

Consult an Attorney 

If accused of kidnapping, you could be facing imprisonment for the remainder of your life, regardless of if it’s a state or federal crime. An experienced attorney can deploy tried-and-true defenses to secure your freedom. Depending on the specifics of your case, it can be argued that the victim gave their consent or that you were forced against your will to carry out the act. In many instances, the kidnapping resulted from a mere misunderstanding — a common occurrence when families are splitting custody of a child. 

Under the leadership of Anthony Rickman, the Rickman Law Firm has successfully handled a wide array of cases involving state and federal felony offenses. When searching for a federal defense attorney in St. Petersburg to take on your case and fight to have your charges dismissed or dropped, look no further than the Rickman Law Firm. 

For a free consultation with a federal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 


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