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Arizona Kidnapping Charges / Child Endangerment Charges

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Arizona Kidnapping & Child Endangerment Charges

Kidnapping is likely one of your worse fears, especially if you have children. When you think of this crime, you may imagine the high-profile abductions seen in popular culture. Many kidnapping cases, however, in Arizona are not that dramatic.

You must understand how Arizona defines this crime to know the rights you have when facing this charge. If your child or loved one has their rights violated, you also need to prepare for the report you will have to make.

Continue reading below to learn more about both sides of this dangerous situation, whether you or a loved one are the victims or the perpetrators.

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Arizona Kidnapping & Child Endangerment Laws

ARS 13-1304 – Kidnapping Charges

Defining the Kidnapping Crime Under Arizona Laws

Adult and child kidnappings are both under ARS 13-1304. The first clause states that the perpetrator has to know they want to restrain someone. That act has to have a meaningful reason, including those from the list below.

  • Holding someone for ransom or as a hostage
  • Holding someone for involuntary servanthood
  • Inflicting physical injury, sexual assault, or death on the victim
  • Threatening bodily harm, creating a sense of fear
  • Interfering with a government or political event
  • Exercising control over any type of vehicle, including planes, trains, buses, ships, and vehicles

Arizona Kidnapping Charges

After being charged with kidnapping, you or your loved one will face the penalties of a class two felony. If the perpetrator releases the victim before their arrest, the crime goes down to a class four felony.

Sometimes, the perpetrator may release the victim due to an agreement made with law enforcement personnel. In this situation, the crime is a class three felony, as long as there are no physical injuries.

Finally, no matter the circumstances surrounding the release, you may face a class two felony if the victim is under 15 years old. This crime is under ARS section 13-705 rather than ARS 13-1304, however.

What are the Penalties for Kidnapping in Arizona?

For the class four felony situation aforementioned, there are three punishment options. These can include:

  • 3.75 years of prison time
  • 4 years of probation after prison
  • $150,000 fine

A class three felony comes with a deal made with a government agency. Penalties for this type of crime can include:

  • 5 to 15 years in prison
  • 5 years of probation after prison
  • $150,000 fine

A class two felony occurs when the perpetrator does not release the victim before their arrest, regardless of a deal. This type of crime is also associated with a child kidnapping of someone under 15 years old.

The most severe punishments for this felony can include:

  • At least 7 to 21 years in prison
  • 7 years of probation after prison
  • $150,000 fine

The prison sentencing and probation time are what differ most, depending on the type of felony.

A fine of $150,000 is the same for all three charges under ARS 13-1304.

Weapon Involvement in a Kidnapping Charge

One of the significant factors in determining the severity of a kidnapping charge is whether a weapon was used during the crime. If a weapon, such as a gun or a knife, was used, chances are you would be facing harsher prison times. Let’s look at the differences below.

Use of a Deadly Weapon

There are circumstances specific to using a deadly weapon. These include items like a gun, bat, or knife, which are imperative when receiving your sentencing. First, you will receive a sentencing of at least seven years, though most individuals stay in for 10.5.

When you have prior convictions on your record with the use of a weapon, you must remain in prison for at least 14 years. Again, most judges will give these individuals 15.75, but they can go up to 28.

Finally, if you have two prior convictions on your record and used a deadly weapon, you will have to serve for at least 21 years, though many are in for up to 28. Judges can give up to 35 years of incarceration, however.

No Presence of a Weapon

If there was no deadly weapon involved, there is a chance that you could only face up to a year in jail. Some perpetrators do not receive any time at all, moving straight to probation. This outcome occurs most often when someone does not have a record.

You will likely face prison time if you have one prior offense on your record. The sentencing can last anywhere from 4.5 to 23.25 years.

The presence of two or more prior offenses has the most severe consequence. The perpetrator will have to go to prison for anywhere from 10.5 to 35 years.

Circumstances While in Prison

Under ARS 13-1304, a perpetrator cannot serve time for kidnapping while in prison for another crime. The judge will have to add on additional years to one’s sentencing.

Prison staff and law enforcement personnel will not be on the lookout for good behavior if you are in prison for kidnapping. Any sentencing for this crime is day-for-day. There is no option for early release, no matter how much effort you put into your prison time.


Top 4 Defenses to Kidnapping Charges in Arizona

When charged with kidnapping or child endangerment, you must locate a defense attorney who can help. Sometimes, law enforcement and family members may present with false allegations. See some defense examples below.

1. Lack of Intent

As defined above, when charged with kidnapping, you have to show intent. If you take your child with you when arguing with your spouse, for instance, you do not have a desire for child endangerment. Ultimately, your only intent was to keep your son or daughter from your partner, not kidnap them.

2. Police Coercion

In Arizona, you have what is known as Miranda rights. Law enforcement has to ensure they read these to you at your arrest. The police also cannot pressure you to admit guilt with an incriminating question.

3. Denial of Rights to an Attorney

After an arrest, you have the right to an attorney. If police try to deny your desire to speak with a lawyer, you have a strong defense.

4. Flawed Police Reports

If police officers flaw their reports, any evidence in them is invalid. If law enforcement personnel obtain false witnesses, they could be in more trouble than you.

Charges of Child Endangerment

In the above defenses, there is an explanation concerning when one parent takes a child away from the other. In many cases, this action does not qualify as child kidnapping.

Sometimes, however, you may need to contact a family law attorney, especially if you believe child endangerment is at hand.

Defining an Arizona Child Endangerment Charge

If you want to pursue a lawsuit to charge a loved one with child endangerment, you must understand the law. Certain elements have to occur, including those below.

  • Infliction of emotional or physical pain in a child
  • Allowed a child to experience suffering
  • Allowed a situation in which the child’s health was endangered
  • Negligence in causing injuries or endangerment
  • Lack of discipline in the actions above

Most of the time, endangerment is a misdemeanor charge. A felony charge occurs when there is severe mental and physical harm. These effects could happen with child kidnapping too.

What are the Penalties for Child Endangerment?

Child endangerment that does not involve the risk of death or serious harm will be a class one misdemeanor. Penalties associated with this crime include:

  • 6 months in jail
  • 3 years of probation
  • $2,500 fine

When the act of child endangerment is intentional, the charge becomes a class two misdemeanor. Penalties for this more severe crime are:

  • Up to 4 years in prison
  • 3 years of probation
  • $2,500 fine

Arizona Child Custody Battles

When two parents are going through a custody battle, kidnapping charges may seem like an appropriate assumption if one parent decides to keep their child away from the other parent, or even leave Arizona unannounced. But where is the line drawn? At what point is it considered kidnapping if both parents have joint custody?

As a whole, the information and Arizona laws that outline child kidnapping and endangerment can be confusing. This is why it is recommended to speak with a law firm such as Colburn Hintze Maletta which handles both family law and criminal defense matters. Our attorneys are very familiar with both sides of the law and can help you navigate this delicate process.

The judge and parents involved will come up with a custody arrangement. In many instances, there is joint custody in which both the mother and father have equal amounts of time with the child.

Regardless of the way child custody is arranged, there are specific statutes one must follow.

What About Leaving the State?

You can face a legal battle with endangerment or kidnapping if your custody agreement states that you cannot take your child out of the state for a certain amount of time. A judge may require you to make a security of some form and bring the child back.

Custodial Interference

Though not the same as endangerment in some instances, a parent can face custodial interference charges when there is a joint agreement. This crime occurs when one parent withholds access to the child from another.

Contact a Defense Attorney for Kidnapping or Child Endangerment Charges

Whether you have a charge of adult or child kidnapping or a custody battle at hand, there is always a lawyer able to help.

Speak with your Phoenix defense attorney to help you find the defenses that will prove that you had no intention behind restraining the victim.

Call a Phoenix child custody attorney or family lawyer if going through a custody battle, and suspect possible child endangerment.

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