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Hostage Taking (Kidnap to Evade Arrest)

PC 210.5 Law & Defense

Information on the crime of taking a hostage, also known as false imprisonment for the purpose of protection from arrest or use as a shield, if found at California penal code section 210.5.

In short, taking a hostage means to take another person as a prisoner to avoid arrest or capture, and when the victim is taken as a hostage the victim is placed in greater danger of physical harm. Using a hostage as a shield qualifies as increasing the danger to the hostage.

Example: When a defendant is pulled over for an investigation related to a warrant for arrest for the driver, but the defendant will neither open the vehicle door for the officer upon request, nor allow a passenger to exit the vehicle, the defendant could be charged with hostage taking. This is because the defendant in this situation is using the victim to protect against the vehicle door being forcibly opened by the officer as it could result in injury to the passenger. The same result would occur where a defendant will not release a child or baby from his or her arms to avoid a physical arrest.

PC 210.5 Law

PC 210.5 Every person who commits the offense of false imprisonment against a person for purposes of protection from arrest, which substantially increases the risk of harm to the victim, or for purposes of using the person as a shield is guilty of taking a hostage.


To find the defendant guilty of the crime of hostage taking the district attorney must prove all of the following:

  • The defendant was faced with the threat of imminent arrest

  • The defendant restrained another person by force or threats to protect himself or herself from the threat of imminent arrest

  • When the defendant restrained another person to avoid arrest he or she made the victim move to another place or forced the victim to remain in the same place

  • When the defendant moved or confined the person restrained it substantially increased the risk of harm to the other person, or the defendant used the other person as a human shield

PC 210.5 Sentence

Hostage taking is classified as a felony. If found guilty the defendant may face up to eight years in prison. In some cases the defendant may qualify for a probation sentence, a split sentence, or a suspended sentence.


Note: A split sentence is a jail sentence that is partially served in jail and partially served on house arrest (out of jail), a suspended jail sentence is jail sentence that is never served unless the defendant violates some condition of his or her out of custody sentence.Whether or not probation will be granted upon any conviction for PC 210.5 depends largely on the facts of the case as well the defendant's criminal history.

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is period in which the defendant is monitored by a a probation officer (felony cases). Probation sentences are allowed in hostage taking cases, but it is not guaranteed. Whether or not the defendant will be granted a probation sentence after a conviction for PC 210.5 depends on many factors, including the terms of any plea agreement, the defendant's criminal history, and the facts of the case.

PC 210.5 is not considered to be a serious or violent offense under California Law; therefore, PC 210.5 is not considered a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law. If found guilty of hostage taking the defendant will be entitled to earn up to fifty percent credit off of his or her jail or prison sentence for good behavior while in jail or on work release.

CIMT: The crime of hostage taking is likely considered a crime involving moral turpitude, which means the that if convicted of PC 210.5, the defendant could face collateral consequences related to professional licensing or immigration.

In addition to a prison sentence, punishment for hostage taking convictions include: increased penalty for future crimes, possibility of facing civil lawsuits, fines, restraining orders, loss of the right to own firearm, and more.

Defenses to PC 210.5

Common defense to the crime of hostage taking include: consent to movement or confinement by the alleged victim, insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant intended to use the victim as a human shield or use the victim to avoid arrest, mistake of fact, coerced confession, insanity, and more.

If you or a loved one is charged with hostage taking, or PC 210.5, contact our criminal defense attorneys today and without delay. Our criminal attorneys have successfully defended hundreds of misdemeanor and felony crimes. There is no fee for consultations and our attorneys are available every day of the week to answer your questions and discuss your defense options. Call today!


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