Kidnapping | Houston Criminal Lawyer James Sullivan Fights for his Clients


Houston Kidnapping Defense

Kidnapping is a serious felony offense and occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly abducts another person—usually a child. Kidnapping of children most commonly occurs when a couple is separating or divorcing. The people involved are often parents, relatives, or guardians of the victim and the circumstances are both legally complicated and emotionally charged.

It is important to hire an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer because criminal charges for kidnapping or a related offense do not have to result in a conviction and the resulting lifelong consequences. You may have been acting fully within your rights and could be eligible for a reduction or dismissal of your charges under the Texas Penal Code. In order to convict you, the state prosecutor must prove to a jury that you committed every element of the felony offense beyond a reasonable doubt. With an experienced trial lawyer defending you, this is a difficult burden to meet, and any reasonable doubt in the mind of any of the members of the jury can result in a not guilty verdict or a hung jury.  Therefore, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal attorney in Houston who will fight for you.

Harris County Kidnapping Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with kidnapping in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, or any of the surrounding counties, contact James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428. Attorney James (Jim) Sullivan is an experienced trial lawyer who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.

Restrain vs. Abduct under Texas Law

In Texas criminal law, these two terms are very important. The difference in meaning between these terms as applied to the facts of your case could affect the seriousness of the charges against you, how your case is handled and whether or not your case has the potential to be dismissed by the grand jury or prosecutor.

According to section 20.01(1) of the Texas Penal Code, “Restrain” means to restrict a person’s movements without consent by moving the person from one place to another or by confining the person. Restraint is “without consent” if it is accomplished by:

  1. force, intimidation, or deception, or
  2. any means, including acquiescence of the victim, if:
    1. the victim is under 14 years of age and the parent or guardian have not acquiesced; or
    2. the victim is between 14 to 17 years of age and is taken outside of the state and outside of a 120-mile radius from the victim’s residence and the parent or guardian have not acquiesced in the movement.

According to section 20.01(2) of the Texas Penal Code, “Abduct” means to restrain a person without consent with intent to prevent his rescue by holding the individual in a place where he is not likely to be found or by threatening violence.

Kidnapping related charges

The purpose of defining restraint and abduction in the code is to provide guidance on how the three different kidnapping related offenses should be charged. These three related offenses are unlawful restraint, kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping.

Unlawful Restraint

According to section 20.04 of the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with unlawful restraint if he restrains another person. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the person restrained was younger than 14 years of age; the actor was a relative of the child; and the actor’s sole intent was to assume lawful control of the child.

Unlawful Restraint is a Class A Misdemeanor, except the offense is a:

  1. State Jail Felony if the person restrained is under 17 years of age; or
  2. Third Degree Felony if the actor recklessly endangers the victim; or the actor restrains a public servant.

Kidnapping

According to section 20.03 of the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with kidnapping if he abducts another person. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the abduction did not involve threats of violence; the actor was a relative of the person abducted; and the actor’s sole intent was to assume lawful control of the victim.

Kidnapping is a Third Degree Felony.

Aggravated Kidnapping

According to section 20.04 of the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with kidnapping if he abducts another person with the intent to:

  1. hold him for ransom;
  2. use him as a shield or hostage;
  3. facilitate the commission of a felony or the flight after the attempt or commission of a felony;
  4. inflict bodily injury on him or violate or abuse him sexually;
  5. terrorize him or a third person;
  6. interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.

A person commits an offense if the person abducts another person and uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense.

Kidnapping is a First Degree Felony, except a Second Degree Felony is possible if the defendant voluntarily releases the victim in a safe place.

The penalties for these offenses are severe and can significantly impact your future, such as by losing many educational, employment and housing opportunities. A conviction for kidnapping will also prevent you from ever owning or possessing a firearm. An experienced Harris County kidnapping defense lawyer will be able to review your case and fight to get your charges dismissed or reduced.

Punishment for Kidnapping related offenses in Texas

Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code lists the punishment for kidnapping related offenses in Texas.

A Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by up to a $4,000 fine; confinement in jail for up to 1 year; or both.

A State Jail Felony is punishable by between 180 days to 2 years in a state jail; and by up to a $10,000 fine.

A Third Degree Felony is punishable by between 2 to 10 years in prison; and up to a $10,000 fine.

A Second Degree Felony is punishable by between 2 to 20 years in prison; and up to a $10,000 fine.

A First Degree Felony is punishable by between 5 to 99 years or life in prison; and up to a $10,000 fine.

Depending on the facts of the case, there may be mitigating circumstances that reduce the severity of the charges. These circumstances include the age difference between the victim and the defendant, the relationship between the victim and the defendant, whether violence was used against the victim and other ulterior motives of the defendant. It is important to contact an experienced Houston kidnapping lawyer to learn if any of these mitigating circumstances might apply in order to get your case reduced or dismissed.

James G. Sullivan & Associates | Houston Kidnapping Defense Attorneys

James Sullivan graduated from Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, the most selective and prestigious trial advocacy program in America. Sullivan has a proven record of defending people from all walks of life, faiths and countries in courts throughout southeast Texas.

Contact James Sullivan & Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428 about your kidnapping charges in Harris County (Houston), Montgomery County (Conroe), Fort Bend County (Richmond) or Brazoria County (Angleton).

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