Similar to federal law, the New York Penal Law imposes lengthy prison sentences on those convicted of kidnapping. The law classifies first-degree kidnapping as an A-I felony. A convicted person cannot avoid imprisonment and will likely face a sentence between five and 25 years although a life term remains possible. A court could also demand that the convicted felon pay a hefty fine.
A prosecutor could support a first-degree kidnapping charge if someone abducts another person for the purpose of demanding ransom or compelling a third party to take certain actions. Alternatively, first-degree charges could emerge when a person restrains a person for over 12 hours to inflict injury or sexual abuse, cause terror or influence governmental or political actions. A kidnapping victim who dies prior to reaching safety also creates a situation when the kidnapper could face first degree charges even if no abuse or ransom demands occurred.
Although the laws discuss kidnappings for the purposes of ransom or abuse, the seizure of a child by a noncustodial parent represents the most common form of kidnapping. Even if the person taking a child has no intention of mistreating the person, the act of abduction triggers felony charges. Someone convicted of second-degree kidnapping has committed a class B felony that could result in a sentence between five and 25 years plus a fine.
Someone facing a felony charge could seek legal representation for guidance. An attorney may be able to inform the accused about rights and offer advice before the defendant enters a plea in court. An attorney might also devise a defense strategy if the person did not intend to prevent the abductee’s liberation or thought that a custodial parent or guardian had given consent. The intervention of an attorney may persuade a prosecutor to reduce charges.