Kidnapping Law in Florida

The crime of kidnapping is met with severe consequences. It is usually a level 9 offense punishable by life in prison. Florida Statute 787.01 defines kidnapping as “forcibly, secretly, or by threat confining, abducting or imprisoning another person against his or her will and without lawful authority, with intent to:

  1. Hold for ransom or reward or as a shield or hostage;

  2. Commit or facilitate commission of any felony;

  3. Inflict bodily harm upon or terrorize the victim or another person; or

  4. Interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.”

The inherent problem in this crime in that it is often unclear when it is (and should be) considered to be a separate offense. The Florida Supreme Court has developed a 3-prong test for determining when confinement during the commission of another crime constitutes the separate offense of kidnapping. The test is as follows: If a taking or confinement is alleged to have been done to facilitate the commission of another crime, to be kidnapping the resulting movement or confinement: (1) must not be slight, inconsequential and merely incidental to the other crime; (2) must not be of the kind inherent in the nature of the other crime; and (3) 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. Faison v. State, 426 So.2d 963 (Fla. 1983).

Usually the crime of kidnapping cannot be established where the victim’s confinement ceases when the accompanying crime ends. See Lewis v. State, 50 So.3d 86 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010). However, where victims are tied up and left tied up after the robbers flee the scene, that is an example of how the confinement substantially lessens the risk of detection (i.e., victims cannot run to authorities to report the crime). See Berry v. State, 668 So.2d 967 (Fla. 1996). The rule of thumb is that where confinement ends prior to the completion of the other crime, evidence will not support an independent kidnapping conviction.


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