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A Successful Aggravated Kidnapping Defense Story

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | May 20, 2024

You must be prepared as a defense attorney when defending kidnapping cases because all the marbles are typically on the line. If your client gets convicted according to California Penal Code 209 PC aggravated kidnapping, they could face life in prison.

That's not something you want as a defendant, and it's certainly not something a criminal defense attorney wants their client to be hit with at a potential sentencing after a guilty verdict.

The case that I'm talking about is one that I tried in the Norwalk Superior Court. My client was charged with kidnapping for ransom, along with about six other charges.

I ended up getting a complete not-guilty verdict. The judge dismissed part of the charges after the prosecutor's case was presented, and the jury dismissed the rest.

Case Dismissed

The bottom line is, in that particular case, the alleged victim had a lot of baggage that he carried that he did not tell the police and prosecutors about.

So, once he was confronted with that on the witness stand, we had proof that he was lying, not telling the truth, manipulating things, and didn't care about justice being done.

Still, instead, he cared about himself in exacting revenge against my client. Once the jury and the judge saw that, that was the beginning of the end for the prosecutor's case, and it was dismissed.

What Does the Law Say?

California Penal Code 209 PC aggravated kidnapping law says,

(a) A person who seizes, confines, inveigles, 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 a person who aids or abets any such act, is guilty of a felony.

When a person subject to that act suffers death or bodily harm or is intentionally confined in a manner that exposes that person to a substantial likelihood of death, the person, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life without the possibility of parole.

California Penal Code 209 PC aggravated kidnapping

When no person subjected to that act suffers death or bodily harm, the person, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole.

(b)(1) A person who kidnaps or carries away an individual to commit robbery, rape, oral copulation, sodomy, or any violation of Section 264.1, 288, 289, or former Section 262, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole.

(2) This subdivision shall 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 necessarily present in the intended underlying offense.

(c) When probation is granted, the court shall, except in unusual cases where the interests of justice would best be served by a lesser penalty, require as a condition of the probation that the person be confined in the county jail for 12 months.

If the court grants probation without requiring the defendant to be confined in the county jail for 12 months, it shall specify its reason for imposing a lesser penalty.

(d) Subdivision (b) does not supersede or affect Section 667.61. A person may be charged with violating subdivision (b) and Section 667.61.

However, a person may not be punished under subdivisions (b) and Section 667.61 for the same act that violates both subdivisions (b) and Section 667.61.

Impeaching Witness Credibility

It's a lesson well learned that in criminal defense if you can successfully destroy the credibility of the main witness or witnesses for the prosecution, that can cause you to go a long way towards getting that not-guilty verdict.

There's a jury instruction that the judge reads to the jury at the end of the case that says if you don't believe something that a witness said, you can choose to disbelieve everything that particular witness said. That's crucial in a jury trial.

If you can impeach a witness and show the jury that the witness is not telling the truth, you do a lot of damage to the prosecutor's case, especially in a kidnapping case.

Cross-Examination of Witnesses

Kidnapping for ransom is life if you're convicted. That was a case where all of the marbles were on the line. I focused everything on effectively cross-examining the main witness in the case.

The one who was claiming that my client kidnapped him and did all of these bad things to him, but he didn't tell the whole story. You won't get away with that when you have a great criminal defense attorney prepared and ready to cross-examine you.

If you need the best, you've come to the right place; pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I worked for the district attorney's office, I worked for a superior court judge as his right-hand man, and then, in the early 1990s, I started defending people just like on the criminal defense side.

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.