A recent news story I read described a man carrying a child a short distance within a restaurant. Although they never left the restaurant, the man is being accused by police of Kidnapping. Why? Because Colorado’s law is written poorly and people are getting charged with Kidnapping in Denver and Adams County for conduct which does not really amount to this crime. I can agree the man should be charged with something, but not a serious felony. Perhaps Assault or Harassment would be appropriate. This leads us to the question, What is Kidnapping in Denver and Jefferson County?
Across Colorado, There are Two Degrees of Kidnapping
First Degree Kidnapping, is defined at C.R.S. 18-3-301, and charged against a person as follows:
“any person does any of the following acts with the intent thereby to force the victim or any other person to make any concession or give up anything of value in order to secure a release of a person under the offender’s actual or apparent control:
(a) Imprisons or forcibly secretes any person, or
(b) Entices or persuades any person to go from one place to another; or
(c) Forcibly seizes and carries any person from one place to another
Another version is Second Degree Kidnapping, located at C.R.S. 18-3-302:
(1) Any person takes, entices, or decoys away any child not his own under the age of eighteen years with intent to keep or conceal the child from his parent or guardian or with intent to sell, trade, or barter such child for consideration commits second degree kidnapping, or
(2) Any person knowingly seizes and carries any person from one place to another, without his consent and without lawful justification, commits second degree kidnapping.
Since the person described above moved the child from one spot in the restaurant to another, he is being charged with 2nd Degree Kidnapping. This is ridiculous. Kidnapping is such a serious crime that we should not be using an overly technical definition to make a man a felon when the conduct is wrong, but not seriously wrong. Imagine the man who picks up a spouse during an argument and sets her on a couch to have a talk. Once he picks her up and moves an inch, he can be charged with Kidnapping. Or how about the adult child who picks up his inappropriately dressed elderly parent and brings them into the house against their will. Should that be kidnapping? Prosecutors will not hesitate to charge men and women if their conduct technically meets the statute’s definition. Government employees have motives to overly charge people to advance their careers. We see it all the time.
Broad Definitions Lead to Ridiculous Consequences in Douglas County
Moving someone from “one place to another” is super broad. Parents can be charged with picking up a child’s friend and keeping them from leaving the house against their parents’ wishes. Elderly caretakers can be charged. Wives and husbands, or girlfriends and boyfriends can be charged. We need to have a more specific definition of when we want to impose the full force of law onto a person – such as when the “kidnapper” is doing something for personal gain. Many circumstances which meet the technical definition of Kidnapping in Colorado should never be charged that way. We have plenty of other crimes which would cover those lesser circumstances.
If your friend or loved one has been accused of First Degree Kidnapping or Second Degree Kidnapping in Colorado, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the O’Malley Law Office at 303-830-0880. Together, we can protect your future.