What Constitutes Kidnapping Under State Law?


Under Tex. Pen. Code § 20.03, kidnapping occurs when individuals intentionally or knowingly abduct other people. However, this code section does provide for some affirmative defenses to kidnapping, including the following:

  • The abduction was not committed with an intent to use or threaten to use physical force
  • The actor was a relative of the person allegedly abducted
  • The actor’s only intention was to assume lawful control of the vehicle

Kidnapping is a third-degree felony under Texas law. A conviction for a third-degree felony can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and a $10,000 fine.

Aggravated kidnapping also is a crime under Tex. Pen. Code § 20.04. Individuals commit aggravated kidnapping when they intentionally or knowingly abduct others and intend to:

  • Hold them for ransom or reward
  • Use them as a shield or hostage
  • Carry out a felony or the flight after committing or attempting to commit a felony
  • Inflict physical harm or sexually abuse them
  • Terrorize them or a third person
  • Interfere with the performance of any government or political function

Unlike kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping is a first-degree felony. However, if the persons accused of aggravated kidnapping can prove that they voluntarily released the alleged victims in a safe place, then the charge falls to a second-degree felony. A conviction for aggravated kidnapping as a first-degree felony can result in a prison sentence of five to 99 years and a $10,000 fine. In contrast, a second-degree felony conviction can result in a prison sentence of two to 20 years and a $10,000 fine.

Kidnapping also can be a federal crime that may be prosecuted in federal court. This offense often is charged federally when a kidnapping crosses State lines or national borders. Parental kidnapping also is an offense under federal law when parents violate court orders regarding the custody of children.

When you are facing any criminal charges in the State of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests. Contact Peek Law Group at (512) 359-3362 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

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