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When domestic situations turn into kidnapping

A difficult domestic situation can, unfortunately, escalate suddenly. Someone who was only in a moderate amount of legal trouble can find himself or herself facing the much more serious charge of kidnapping.

It's important to understand exactly what legally constitutes kidnapping before you make a decision that could be difficult to defend in court.

1. Kidnapping does not have to include actual violence. Merely the threat of violence or the use of force, like locking a door, can result in a kidnapping charge if you do it:

  • To hold the person for ransom
  • To use them as a hostage during a crime
  • To simply terrify or hurt them
  • To sexually abuse them (even if the victim seems willing)
  • To stop the government from action (such as interfering with a child custody order)
  • To force them to work for you

2. You can also be found guilty of kidnapping if you somehow deceive someone into staying with you for any of the above reasons.

For example, telling a recent immigrant that's in the United States that he or she must turn over his or her visa and passport to you because you are his or her employer and then telling that person that immigration will deport him or her if they don't obey your every whim is also kidnapping.

3. Simply moving a person from one room to another can count as kidnapping, if you do it forcefully or under the threat of violence.

For example, imagine you and your partner are in an alcohol-induced fight at a party. If you threaten to beat the other person unless he or she goes home with you right then, that can lead to criminal charges for kidnapping as well.

4. Many people find themselves going from a relatively minor domestic violence charge to a serious kidnapping charge because they don't realize that restraining another person or preventing them from leaving can also constitute kidnapping.

For example, refusing to let your boyfriend or girlfriend leave when you are fighting by blocking the doorway and threatening their life, even if you didn't mean it, can turn into a serious crime.

Most kidnapping charges are the result of poor judgment in the heat of the moment, not planned actions. Consider talking to a criminal defense attorney to learn your options as soon as possible.

Source: LAWriter Ohio Laws and Rules, "2905.01 Kidnapping.," accessed Jan. 17, 2018

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