Sometimes Virginia residents find themselves charged with serious crimes in federal court. This can be an especially intimidating and stressful situation since the federal government is known to use its vast resources to prosecute individuals to the fullest extent of the law. For example, people are often surprised by the fact that kidnapping in Virginia may result in a federal prosecution. Our Roanoke federal kidnapping lawyers understand how these cases progress in federal court, and what is necessary to secure a successful conclusion in your case. Do not hesitate to contact our Roanoke criminal defense lawyers about how we can help.
It is common for people to be uncertain about how their case landed in the federal system and not Virginia state court. Primarily, the federal government has jurisdiction over crimes that involve the crossing of state lines. As a Virginia resident, you could be charged with a federal crime if the government believes that an offense took place in multiple states or violated a specific federal statute. Kidnapping is defined by Virginia Code 18.2-47, which is very similar to the federal definition under 18 U.S.C section 1201. Your lawyer must know how to protect your rights in both state and federal court if you are to prevail against such a significant charge.
At Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico, our violent crimes lawyers have several decades of experience defending clients in federal court and know what it takes to protect your rights. To speak with a Roanoke kidnapping defense lawyer, call our office at (540) 343-9349 or contact us online.
The Federal Definition Of Kidnapping
Both the federal and Virginia definitions of kidnapping allow for many different situations to fall within the scope of this offense. For instance, a kidnapping crime can happen when someone forcefully takes another person somewhere against their will, but it can also involve incidents where someone stays in a particular place because they have been intimidated into not moving.
Kidnapping in Virginia is almost always defined as an action that has one of the following purposes:
- To take someone’s liberty from them – This very broad definition can fit many scenarios, including holding someone against their will until a ransom is paid.
- To hide someone from their guardian, caretaker, or an institution to which they belong – This could involve a parent keeping their child from a legal guardian, or keeping someone from a mental health facility where they should be.
- Forcing someone to work – This could relate to domestic servants, who are lured into working and not allowed to leave freely.
Other Kidnapping Crimes Charged in Federal Court
Every federal kidnapping charge is unique, and there are various situations where kidnapping or abduction charges can be filed by a federal prosecutor. It’s quite common for a family crimes attorney to represent parents accused of kidnapping their own child by another parent. While state authorities handle many of these cases, the federal government will prosecute you if your case takes place in more than one state. Specifically, The Federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act is meant to address these cases, and if found guilty could result in considerable time in prison.
Federal prosecutors are also known to aggressively pursue kidnapping cases if they believe someone was kidnapped for the purpose of a sex crime. Known in Virginia as abduction with the intent to defile, kidnapping someone to commit a sex offense can result in years in prison and mandatory registration as a sex offender. Many of these situations involve child exploitation or child pornography, using the internet to conspire in a kidnapping or abduction, or sex trafficking.
Any crime that involves the physical control of someone else without their consent can also include a federal felony charge. These cases can result from incidences such as:
- Using a hostage as a shield while committing another offense
- Holding someone hostage for a ransom
- Torture or physical injury while terrorizing someone else
- Interfering with a federal official conducting their job
- Keeping a child from their lawful parent or guardian
Possible Defenses To Kidnapping
Building a strong defense against a federal kidnapping charge in Virginia requires having a lawyer who understands how the federal courts will apply the kidnapping laws to your case. At Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico, our defense lawyers realize what it takes to secure favorable outcomes in these situations and that a lot will depend on calling into question the essential elements of your case.
Of the various defenses available to those charged with kidnapping in VA, one or several may include:
- The alleged victim actually gave consent – You cannot be convicted if the person over whom you exercised physical control consented to your actions.
- The taking was lawful – You may have had a legal right to take the supposed victim. This is common in cases where a parent is accused of kidnapping their child.
- You are the victim of mistaken identity – You may be falsely accused of kidnapping someone.
A Lawyer From Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico Can Help
Federal prosecutions are extremely serious, and the accused might be facing some devastating consequences. Even if you are charged with taking your own child when the other parent should have custody, it is possible for a federal conviction to result in years of incarceration. Additionally, if someone was injured or died in connection to your case, you’ll be exposed to decades or even life in prison, since the minimum punishment for a class two felony is at least 20 years in custody.
If you are ever charged with kidnapping crime in Virginia, your first call should be to a highly-skilled and knowledgeable Roanoke criminal defense lawyer. By working with an experienced Roanoke kidnapping attorney, you’ll understand how to handle the matter in either federal or state court. Our defense attorneys have helped several clients in your position, and we know what is at stake when everyday people are charged with serious felonies.
To speak with an experienced and aggressive federal kidnapping lawyer about your case, contact Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico as soon as possible. You can call our office today at (540) 343-9349 or submit a request online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.