Kidnapping Law & Defense
PC 207 & 209 Crimes
Information on the crime of kidnapping is found at penal code sections 207 and 209. This article is intended to serve as an overview of the law, the punishment, and the defenses that apply to kidnapping laws.
Kidnapping Laws (Abbr.)
PC 207(a): Every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, steals takes, holds, detains, or arrests any person in this state, and carries the person into another country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping (PC 207(a) Abbrev.).
Note: Be aware that kidnapping does not actually require the victim to be moved. To hold a person in place and without legal justification can be considered kidnapping pursuant to PC 207(a)
PC 207(b): Every person, who for the purpose of committing any act defined in Section 288 (lewd and Lascivious acts on a minor), hires, persuades, entices, decoys, or seduces, by misrepresentations, or the like, any child under the age of 14 years to go out of this country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of aggravated kidnapping (PC 207(b) Abbrev.).
PC 209(a): Any person who seizes, confines, entices, decoys, abducts, conceals, kidnaps or carries away another person by any means whatsoever with intent to hold or detain, or who holds or detains, that person for ransom, reward, or to commit extortion, or to exact from another person any money or valuable thing, or any person who aids or abets any such act, is guilty of a kidnapping (PC 209(a) Abbrev.).
PC 209(b)(1): Any person who kidnaps or carries away any individual to commit robbery, rape, spousal rape, oral copulation, sodomy, or any violation of Section 264.1, 288, or 289, is guilty of kidnapping.
Note: PC 209(a) only apply if the movement of the victim is beyond that merely incidental to the commission of, and increases the risk of harm to the victim over and above that which is necessarily present in the intended underlying offense (PC 209(b)(2) Abbrev.).
In sum, most kidnapping charges require the prosecutor must prove:
The defendant took, held, or detained another person by using force against the victim or by instilling reasonable fear in the victim (PC 207)
If the defendant moved the other person, the distance must be a substantial distance. If the defendant held another person in place by force or fear than a greater risk of harm must have accompanied the restraint (PC 207)
When the defendant is accused of committing kidnapping to commit a further felony, such as a sex crime, the defendant is usually charged with the more serious kidnapping charge (PC 209(b)(1))
Sentence for Kidnapping
PC 207(a): The most common charge of kidnapping is filed under PC 207(a), which carries a prison sentence maximum of eight years.
PC 207(b) & 208(b): If the person kidnapped is under the age of fourteen at the time of the kidnapping the crime is charged under PC 207(b) or 208(b) and is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for up to eleven years.
PC 209(b)(1): If the kidnapping is committed in the commission of a robbery or a sex offense, the crime is usually charged under PC 209(b)(1) and is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of life.
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is period of supervision as opposed to an actual prison sentence. Probation sentences are allowed in kidnapping cases charged under PC 207(a), but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not a defendant is allowed to serve a probation sentence in any PC 207(a) cases depends on many factors.
Note: if the defendant s not granted a probation sentence after a conviction for kidnapping then the defendant must serve his or her incarceration in a state prison, as opposed to a local county jail., and no part of that prison sentence may be split or suspended.
Strike Crimes: Kidnapping crimes charged under PC 207 and 209 are considered strike offenses under California Three Strikes Sentencing Law. Therefore, a criminal conviction for any kidnapping charge will lead to harsher penalties for subsequent convictions of any felony (longer incarceration and reduced good behavior credits allowed to reduce any incarceration time).
Immigration consequences: Kidnapping crimes charged under PC 207 and 209 are considered crimes of violence. They are also sometimes considered crimes of moral turpitude and/or aggravated felonies, as those terms are defined in United States immigration law. This means that a non-U.S. citizen defendant will likely be deported back to his or her home county after serving any prison time in the United States for kidnapping.
Professional License: Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations gives authority to professional licensing agencies to suspend or revoke the defendant's privilege to practice in a profession upon a conviction for the crime of kidnapping. This applies to Bar, Board, and Commission members, such as doctors, dentist, lawyers, barbers, etc.
Additional penalties that accompany kidnapping criminal convictions may also include: restitution to the victim/s, loss of family law rights to children, restraining orders, fines, loss of driver's license (if the kidnapping was committed by use of a vehicle), and more.
Common defenses to kidnapping charges include: Consent to move or detain the victim, mistake of fact, insufficient evidence, self defense, defense of others, coerced confessions, statute of limitations, alibi defense, intoxication, insanity, citizen's arrest, police misconduct, and more.
To learn more about the crime of kidnapping, or penal codes 207 and 209, contact our criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Call today!
Quick Legal Reference
Code: PC 207 (CalCrim No. 1200-1215)
Wobbler: No. PC 207 is not a wobbler. This means that PC 207 is only charged as a felony.
Incarceration: PC 207 prison sentence range: 3, 5, or 8 years (if probation not granted).
Probation: Probation may be available in PC 207 cases (assuming that other crimes or enhancements that might bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.
PC 1170(h)): No. PC 207 is not subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any incarceration ordered after felony conviction, that is not part of a probation sentence, must be served in state prison (as opposed to a county jail), and the prison sentence may not be split or suspended.
Strike: PC 207 is a strike offense per California's Three Strikes law because this crime is considered a Serious offense (PC 1192.7), and a Violent offense (PC 667.5(c). Strike offenses are subject to reduced good time credits in jail or prison and other penalty enhancements upon subsequent criminal convictions.
Credits: 15% good conduct credits available.
CIMT: PC 207 is a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that an arrest or conviction could lead to the following:
Professional Licensing problems
Impeachment on credibility
Firearms: PC 207 convictions prohibit a defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.
Bail: $250,000 (San Bernardino County)
Criminal Defense Lawyers
False Imprisonment PC 236
Kidnapping for ransom, reward, or extortion PC 209(a)
Kidnapping for robbery, or sex offense PC 209(b)(1)
Kidnapping PC 208(a)Kidnapping a minor PC 208(b)