Few criminal charges carry the same social stigma as a kidnapping charge, particularly those involving a child. Depending on the circumstances of the kidnapping charges, the accused individual may be subject to public ridicule if charged, as well as jail sentences that range from a few years to a lifetime if convicted. A kidnapping charge alone without a conviction may be enough to ruin an individual’s home life, career and reputation.
When an individual is charged with kidnapping, they can expect a number of things to happen legally as well as socially. Although the United States legal system relies on the premise that one is innocent until proven guilty, the public view of a kidnapping charge may have the opposite motto; guilty until proven innocent.
While some people accused of kidnapping will be declared innocent, they may be marked as guilty in the eyes of society forever. The same is true in a child molestation case as well, and sometimes the two seem interchangeable since child kidnappings by strangers often involve sexual abuse.
Kidnapping is defined as using force, lies, or fear to steal or hold an individual captive. Legally, someone who is facing a kidnapping charge should prepare themselves for an uphill battle. Any type of kidnapping is considered to be a felony and the prosecution of such a case will be very harsh.
Few people have any sympathy for kidnappers, especially those who are accused of committing acquaintance or stranger kidnapping. Because of this, it may be hard for the individual facing kidnapping charges to receive a fair trial. If convicted, one may have to register as a sexual offender.
Although state laws do vary, a typical kidnapping charge conviction is a three to eight year prison term with an average of 11 years in prison for kidnapping a minor. Anyone convicted of kidnapping someone to financially extort the victim, sexually abuse them, or physically abuse them can face life in prison.
It is generally agreed that an individual who is convicted on kidnapping charges with a child, especially for reasons such as sexual abuse, deserves a harsh prison sentence. However, when the legal lines become blurry, the individual charged can be subject to legal and social repercussions that may be considered unfair.
A minor is one considered to be 17 or under and a legal adult is over the age of 18. Technically, a 18 year old can be faced with kidnapping charges for consorting with a 17 year old and having sexual relations, even with consent.