Family Violence Offenses: Kidnapping

Custody arguments between parents can become acrimonious, adding to the stress and complexities that often already exist in co-parenting situations, and it can be easy for such disputes to escalate quickly. Sometimes, a noncustodial parent may even take a child away and prevent the other parent from exercising his or her custodial rights. Knowing the law can help families avoid scenarios that may result in domestic violence charges, restraining orders, and injunctions.

Family and Household Members

Under Florida law, domestic violence includes the kidnapping of one family or household member by another family or household member. A family or household member need not be related by blood or marriage to qualify under the domestic violence statute. Family or household members include:

  • Spouses and former spouses,
  • Persons related by blood or marriage,
  • Persons living together as a family, and
  • Persons who are parents of a child in common, regardless of marital history.

With the exception of parents who have a child in common, the family or household members must currently reside, or have previously resided, in the same single dwelling unit.

Elements of Kidnapping

Florida law defines kidnapping as confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person by force, secret, or by threat, against her or his will and without lawful authority, and with the intent to hold the person for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage, commit or facilitate commission of any felony, inflict bodily harm upon or to terrorize the victim or another person; or interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.

The confinement of a child under the age of thirteen is considered to be against his or her will if the confinement is without the consent of his or her parent or legal guardian.

To explain what it means to kidnap with the intent to commit or facilitate the commission of a felony, Florida courts use a three-prong test known as the Faison test. The test is used to determine whether the movement or confinement of an individual during the commission of another felony is enough to justify a charge of kidnapping. In order to be considered kidnapping, the movement or confinement occurring during the commission of another felony must:

  • Not be slight, inconsequential, and merely incidental to the other crime,
  • Not be inherent in the nature of the other crime, and
  • Be significant, independent of the other felony, by making it easier to commit the other crime or by substantially decreasing the risk of detection.
Injunctions and Penalties

Someone who is the victim of domestic violence or has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in imminent danger of becoming a victim can file in the circuit court for an injunction for protection prior to the filing of any charges.

Kidnapping is a first degree felony and is punishable by up to 30 years imprisonment or a $10,000 fine.

If you are having familial difficulties, it is important to have the advice of an attorney. Since domestic violence charges such as kidnapping have severe consequences for all parties involved, it is important to understand the consequences of certain actions. Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.