federal kidnapping chargesThe Federal Kidnapping Charges are Defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1201

Federal kidnapping charges can be brought where a person is kidnapped and transported across state or international lines and is otherwise defined in the United States Code at 18 U.S.C. § 1201.

In order for it to be kidnapping, the person must not have consented to being held or confined. In other words, the person must be held against their will.  Federal kidnapping charges may be brought for the purpose of the crime is to obtain a ransom a reward. However the federal kidnapping statute does not require proof that the person commit the kidnapping crime for the purposes of financial gain. The statute also allows for a criminal charge in federal court to be brought for the kidnapping is done knowingly and willingly.  Such examples may include situations where the purpose of the kidnapping is to silence a witness, kidnapping for sexual gratification, or other illegitimate purpose.


Federal jurisdiction over kidnapping arises under the following situations: where the kidnapping involves transporting the person in interstate or foreign commerce, where the kidnapping was within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, kidnapping within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, kidnapping which the victim is a foreign official, and internationally protected person, or an official guest in the country, kidnapping in which the victim is a federal officer or employee under certain circumstances, and kidnapping where international parental kidnapping is involved in the victim is a child under the age of 16.


In general a federal kidnapping charge does not apply to matters involving the taking of a minor child by a parent except where it involves an international parental kidnapping situation. In those cases the parent must have removed our taken the child under the age of 16 years outside of the United States with the intention to obstruct the lawful exercise of the other parents parental rights. It should be noted that under the parental kidnapping provision the term parent does not include a person whose parental rights have been terminated.


The Federal kidnapping crime provide special rules for offenses involving children. Where the victim is under the age of 18 and the offender has obtained the age of 18 and is not apparent grandparents brother sister aunt uncle or person having legal custody sentencing levels are increased to reflect the severity of the offense.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 1201(b) there is a presumption that if the defendant fails to release the victim within 24 hours after they are illegally seized, confined, or kidnapped there is a rebuttable presumption that the person has been transported in interstate or foreign commerce. This presumption was placed in the law to allow the FBI to be come involved in cases where a missing person has been missing for at least 24 hours.


The potential punishments for a federal kidnapping charge are quite severe. In the majority of cases the sentence of at least 20 years could result. Even an attempt to commit a kidnapping could result in imprisonment for up to 20 years. In addition, The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 reinstated the death penalty for kidnapping where the death of any person results.


The attorneys at Bradford Ladner LLP  have years of experience handling all manner of federal criminal charges.   We handle federal criminal charges in all three district courts in the state of Alabama as well as in other district courts throughout the country. If you are facing a federal criminal charge please do not hesitate to call us. We would be happy to speak with you regarding your situation.