Minnesota kidnapping charges are nearly as serious as murder charges. The penalties can range from huge fines to life imprisonment without parole. Besides terrifying cases of child abduction, criminal conducts of kidnapping and involuntary imprisonment can happen in child custody disputes, divorces, and even in scenarios where parents or relatives with good motives are involved.
Kidnapping in Minnesota
Minnesota statute defines kidnapping as the act of confining or physically moving a person from one location to another without the consent of that person. A kidnapping charge also arises if that person is a minor and no consent has been sought from the minor’s parents or legal guardians. The above criminal acts are usually committed with any of the following intentions:
- To hold another party for reward or ransom;
- To hold the victim as a hostage or a shield;
- To use the victim to commit a crime or escape;
- To terrorize or inflict significant bodily harm to the victim;
- To force the victim to take part in involuntary servitude.
Minnesota Kidnapping Conviction Penalties
The criminal act of kidnapping in Minnesota is punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years and fines of up to $35,000 if the victim was released safely and with no significant bodily injuries. If the victim wasn’t safely released, sustained significant bodily injuries, or was a minor, the convicted kidnapper will face up to 40 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.
Top Four Kidnapping Defenses in Minnesota
Fortunately, there are valid defenses that the defendant’s criminal attorney can use against the kidnapping charge. If the attorney avails the defense as early as possible, chances are high that the case won’t go to court. A judge may look at the defendant’s circumstances, acknowledge them, and dismiss the case. The four leading Minnesota kidnapping defenses include:
Consent Defense: The ‘Victim’ Consented
Kidnapping can occur only if the victim was unwilling, especially with adults. If the ‘victim’ joined the alleged kidnapper willingly and the kidnapper didn’t use force or coercion to prevent the victim from leaving, then the kidnapping didn’t happen.
For example, assuming the accused person recently got back with the ex-spouse after a messy break-up. The ex chooses to spend the weekend with the accused person, but fails to inform friends and family of his or her whereabouts. The two parties switch their phones off to have quality time with each other. A worried family member or friend then calls the police to report a kidnapping rather than a missing person due to the messy break-up. A criminal attorney can use the consent defense in this situation.
Mistake: A Simple Misunderstanding with no Malicious Intentions
Taking children away from school, home, or any other place without the consent of the parents or legal custodian is considered kidnapping or child abduction. Parental child abductions are common during contested divorces.
In some instances, distraught or vengeful parents may take their children to unknown locations to hide them from their ex-spouses. In other instances, it’s just a big misunderstanding. Divorce custody provisions can be difficult to grasp. A parent can, for instance, make a scheduling mistake and fail to fulfill a custody handover.
A parent can also pick children from school or any other place when it’s not his or her day, causing the ex-spouse to panic and file a parental kidnapping report with the police. If the issue is, however, just a mistake without any malicious intentions, then the court is highly likely to dismiss the case since there is no actual crime committed.
Coercion Defense: A Third Party Masterminded the Kidnapping
Coercion applies in situations where the alleged kidnapper was forced to commit the crime by another person. The law targets the actors of the offense and the real criminals behind it. A criminal can force or coerce an otherwise upright, law-abiding citizen to kidnap. In such a case, the criminal must be held liable.
A criminal defense attorney can use coercion defense to help a person forced to kidnap another person through intimidation or blackmail get the kidnapping charges overturned. The attorney can also work closely with the police to help identify and bring to book the real criminal.
Insanity Defense: The Accused Didn’t Know What He or She Was Doing
The Insanity defense applies to all kinds of felony charges. In this defense, the kidnapper confesses the criminal action but claims a lack of liability due to his or her mental illness. This defense is categorized as an excuse defense, not a justification defense.
If an insanity defense is successful, the defendant will most likely be subjected to several years of mental rehabilitation and will lose standing in the law, business, and financial world. The accused may also use temporary insanity for his or her alleged criminal act.