KIDNAPPING AND FALSE IMPRISONMENT
By Steven Gomberg
Section 787.01(1)(a), Florida Statutes (1999), provides:
The term “kidnapping” means forcibly, secretly, or by threat confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person against her or his will and without lawful authority, with intent to:
1. Hold for ransom or reward or as a shield or
2. Commit or facilitate commission of any felony.
3. Inflict bodily harm upon or to terrorize the
victim or another person.
4. Interfere with the performance of any
governmental or political function.
Kidnapping is punished as a First Degree Felony with a maximum sentence of life. Aggravated Kidnapping involving a child under the age of 13 during which the child is victimized sexually or physically is subject to a mandatory minimum term of life.
We do not often see “pure” kidnaping cases in the traditional sense where a person is seized and transported away and held for ransom. As is true with many offenses defined by Florida Law, prosecutors often try to overreach and use the kidnapping law to enhance the penalties for other crimes being alleged. This is particularly true under subsection 2 of the law which deals with abductions committed to “commit or facilitate commission of any felony.”
The Florida Appeals courts have been concerned that if the unlawful confining of another person with the intent to commit or facilitate the commission of any felony were “construed literally this subsection would apply to any criminal transaction which inherently involves the unlawful confinement of another person, such as robbery or sexual battery.” Therefore, they have ruled that, in order for the State to prove a kidnapping charge in those situations they must avoid the charge where the only confinement involved is the sort that, though not necessary to the underlying felony, is likely to naturally accompany it such as in a “routine” robbery or rape where a victim or victims may be forcibly moved from one location another in order for the criminal act to be completed.
Further, If a taking or confinement is alleged to have been done to facilitate the commission of another crime, to be kidnaping the resulting movement or confinement:
(a) Must not be slight, inconsequential and merely incidental to the other crime;
(b) Must not be of the kind inherent in the nature of the other crime; and
(c) Must have some significance independent of the other crime in that it makes the other crime substantially easier of commission or substantially lessens the risk of detection.
False Imprisonment is often confused with kidnapping. A false imprisonment occurs when a person, by forcible means, or by threat, secretly confines, abducts, imprisons, or restrains another person without lawful authority and against her or his will.
False Imprisonment is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment. A false imprisonment of a child under 13 for the purpose of physical or sexually abusing the child is a first degree felony punishable by life.
One way of understanding the difference between false imprisonment and kidnapping is to think of a kidnapping as being a false imprisonment for one of the four reasons stated in the kidnapping statute (ransom - commission of another felony - inflict bodily harm - interfere with a government or political function).
A false imprisonment would be a situation where, for instance, an angered spouse locks the other spouse in a bathroom against their will fro a period of time.
Defenses to these crimes would include, as to kidnapping, lack of intent to commit one of the specified acts (which could still be a false imprisonment); consent by the victim; or, of course, that you have been wrongfully charged and did nothing.Google