June 12, 2017 By Paul Wallin


Is Kidnapping a Federal Crime? (PC 207)

California Penal Code Section 207 defines kidnapping as when you take, detain, hold, or arrest another person and bring that person to another county, state, country, or another part of the same county using force or fear.

So, if kidnapping involves taking a person across state or international lines, could it be a federal crime?

Federal Kidnapping Charges (18 U.S.C. Section 1201)

Kidnapping is typically charged at the state level because cases often involve moving a person within the one state. However, kidnapping could be charged as a federal crime if the defendant is alleged to have crossed state or international lines.

Under 18 U.S.C. Section 1201, kidnapping is when a person unlawfully seizes, abducts, or carries away and holds another person for ransom or reward across state lines. It also states that failing to release a victim within 24 hours after they have been kidnapped creates an assumption they have been transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

Penalties for Kidnapping

Kidnapping is a serious crime in California. If convicted, you face up to 11 years in state prison and a strike on your criminal record under California’s Three Strikes law.

If you are convicted of federal kidnapping under 18 U.S.C. Section 1201, you face 20 years to life in prison, depending on your prior convictions and the circumstances of your case. If the kidnapping results in the death of a person, you could face life in prison or the death penalty.

Federal kidnapping charges involving minors are sentenced differently. You could face at least 20 years in prison if:

  • The victim of the kidnapping is under the age of 18,
  • You are 18 years old or older, AND
  • You are not the parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle or any individual with legal custody of the victim

Kidnapping often involves a parent or someone related to the alleged victim taking the minor child away from the custody of the other parent or legal guardian. International parental kidnapping is a separate federal crime under 18 U.S.C. Section 1204. You violate this law if you have parental rights over a child under 16 years of age and you take that child outside of the United States. You face up to three years in prison if you are convicted under 18 U.S.C. Section 1204.

Contact the Kidnapping Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are charged with a federal or state kidnapping crime, you face serious punishment. That is why you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our knowledgeable criminal lawyers have been successfully defending clients facing kidnapping charges for more than 40 years. We may be able to help you avoid the harsh consequences of a kidnapping conviction.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Los Angeles, West Covina, Torrance and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich kidnapping attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.

Call us now at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

Practice area

  • Contact Us Now

    If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, now is the time to contact us.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

SCHEDULE YOUR free consultation

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, this is the time to contact us.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.