People in Washington commit the offense of first-degree kidnapping if they intentionally abduct a person with the intent to perform another specific act (like hold the person for ransom or inflict injury on the person). The crime is a serious felony under the law and a conviction can result in years in state prison. If you or a loved one is facing a kidnapping charge, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney now for help.

How Does Washington Law Define First-Degree Kidnapping?

Under Washington law, there are two forms of kidnapping. These are first-degree kidnapping and second-degree kidnapping.

RCW 9A.40.020 is the Washington statute that defines the crime of kidnapping in the first degree. According to this law, people are guilty of first-degree kidnapping if they intentionally abduct another person, and do so with the intent to:

  1. Hold “the victim” for ransom or as a shield or hostage,
  2. Facilitate the commission of a felony,
  3. Inflict bodily injury on “the victim,”
  4. Inflict extreme mental distress on “the victim” or another person, or
  5. Interfere with any government function.

For purposes of this section, “abduction” is the act of forcibly taking someone against their will. Note as well that, despite the title of this crime, Washington law does not impose any requirement that a kidnapping victim be a certain age. In other words, a defendant can be guilty of kidnapping either a child or an adult.

What are the Penalties?

Kidnapping in the first degree is a class A felony (as opposed to a misdemeanor). The maximum penalties for the offense include:

  • A possible sentence of up to life in state prison, and/or
  • A fine of up to $50,000.

However, if a defendant has no criminal history, the crime is typically punished with between 51 and 68 months in prison.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Fortunately, people accused of kidnapping can contest the accusation with a legal defense. A common defense is for a defendant to show that, while he/she may have technically abducted someone, the party did not do so with an intent to commit an unlawful act listed in RCW 9A.40.020. For example, maybe the defendant took another person, but did not do so with the intent to injure that party.

Further, an accused can often contest a charge by showing that law enforcement violated one of his/her constitutional rights. For example, if police obtained evidence in a case via an unlawful search or seizure, a judge may rule to reduce a charge or even drop a charge altogether.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a kidnapping charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced kidnapping attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 25 years of combined experience defending clients on kidnaping charges. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these types of cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!