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Understanding Texas Kidnapping Laws

Undoubtedly, kidnapping is considered to be a serious offense and will therefore carry with it serious penalties. Most people are generally familiar with the basic elements involved with a kidnapping offense, however it is worthwhile to understand the specific points of the law.

As defined by Texas state law, the crime of kidnapping has occurred when an individual intentionally or knowingly abducts another individual. It is considered to be an affirmative defense if:

  • The abduction did not involve the intent to use or threat to use deadly force;
  • The defendant’s only intent was to assume lawful control of the victim; and
  • The defendant is a relative of the individual abducted.

In the case of this offense, the charge would likely be considered a felony in the third degree.

Aggravated Kidnapping in Texas

In Texas, there is also a statute detailing the crime of aggravated kidnapping. This crime is considered to be more severe than regular kidnapping and is when an individual intentionally or knowingly abducts another individual with the intent to:

  • Hold her for ransom or reward;
  • Use her as a shield or hostage;
  • Coordinate the commission of a felony or the flight after the attempt or commission of a felony;
  • Inflict bodily injury or sexually abuse the individual;
  • Terrorize her or another party; or
  • Interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.

Another action that will cause the charge to be aggravated kidnapping is when an individual intentionally or knowingly abducts another individual and uses or showcases a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense. In most cases, this offense is considered a First Degree felony.

What does Texas Law Say About Smuggling of Persons and Unlawful Restraint?

Related to kidnapping are the crimes of smuggling and unlawful restraint. To begin with the offense of smuggling is generally considered to have occurred when an individual intentionally uses a motor vehicle to transport another individual with the intent to hide that individual from a law enforcement officer. In this case, the offense is charged as a State Jail felony.

However, the charge is increased to a third degree felony if the individual executes the act in order to gain a pecuniary interest or the act is committed in a way that creates a substantial likelihood that the individual will suffer serious bodily injury or death.

Unlawful restraint is found to have occurred when an individual intentionally or knowingly restrains another individual. One common defense offered in conjunction with this charge is that:

  • The individual restrained was under 14 years old;
  • The defendant is a relative of this child; and
  • The defendant’s only intent was to gain control over the child.

Under these factors, a defendant is usually charged with a Class A misdemeanor. However, the charge is increased to a State Jail felony if the individual restrained was under 17 years old.

Furthermore, a Second Degree felony charge is appropriate when the defendant recklessly put the victim at risk for serious bodily injury, the restrained individual is acting as a public servant, or the defendant restrains another while in custody. In this case, the defense can offer the explanation that the restrained individual was between the ages of 14 and 16, the defendant did not restrain the individual through means of force, intimidation, or deception, and the defendant is not more than three years older than the restrained individual.

Do You Need an Attorney?

If you are in need of legal representation, contact a qualified attorney at The Wilder Firm who will listen to the facts of your specific case and will help to achieve your desired outcome.

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