Your Complete Guide to Missouri Kidnapping Charges

Kidnapping is a serious offense, but it’s not as simply defined as taking a child off the street. You can be charged for kidnapping an adult or even for taking a child of your own, in the right circumstances, so it’s important you know exactly what constitutes kidnapping and what kind of sentencing each charge comes with. 

Read on to find out everything you need to know about kidnapping charges in Missouri. 

What Constitutes Kidnapping in Missouri? 

Kidnapping is defined as the movement or confinement of another person, child or adult, against their will. 

What are the Different Degrees of Kidnapping? 

There are three different degrees of kidnapping: 

  • Third Degree Kidnapping: knowingly restraining another person unlawfully without their consent. 
  • Second Degree Kidnapping: knowingly restraining another person unlawfully without their consent and exposes them to a significant risk of serious physical injury. 
  • First Degree Kidnapping: unlawful removal of any person without their consent, or unlawfully confines them without their consent for a prolonged period of time, for the purpose of: 
    • eliciting ransom or reward
    • using them as a shield or hostage
    • interfering with political or a governmental function 
    • facilitating the commission of a felony or flight 
    • inflicting physical injury or terrorizing them 

Is Kidnapping Always a Felony?

Kidnapping charges are, in most cases, a felony charge. The breakdown is as follows: 

First Degree Kidnapping is a class A felony which is has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment (and cannot be less than a term of 10 years) unless it was done to facilitate another felony or flight, or with the intent to inflict physical injury, which is a class B felony, though will come with additional charges in most cases. 

Second Degree Kidnapping is a class D felony, which carries a maximum punishment of 7 years in prison. 

Third Degree Kidnapping is a class A misdemeanor, unless the person kidnapped is taken across state lines, which is a class E felony

How Can It Be Kidnapping When They’re My Child? 

Kidnapping your own child is possible, and it’s called “Parental Kidnapping”. If you do not have the legal right to have custody of your child, or exceed your custody rights (such as not returning them to their legal guardian after your visit), it is considered Parental Kidnapping. 

Parental kidnapping can happen when a parent without custody of their child takes, removes, conceals, or detains their child – without good cause – without permission of the state, with the intention of depriving another guardian or public agency who should have custody of that child. In Missouri, a child is defined as anyone under 17 years old. 

Parental kidnapping is a class E felony, which carries a maximum punishment of 4 years in prison. 

If the kidnapping continues beyond 60 days, but does not exceed 119 days, it is a class D felony, which carries a maximum punishment of 7 years in prison. 

And, if the kidnapping continues above 120 days, it is a class B felony, which carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison, with a term of no less than 5 years. 

What if I Technically Kidnapped My Child But Then Received a Court Order for Custody? 

Any kidnapping charge will not take into account any granted custody after the fact – the law was broken and it is up to the judge and courts to decide how you’ll be penalized. However, working with an experienced criminal lawyer will be able to help your circumstances work in your favor. 

What Should I Do If I Believe I’ll Be Charged with Kidnapping? 

Kidnapping is a serious charge and puts you at risk of losing your freedom for a significant term. If you believe you are going to be charged for kidnapping you need to speak to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to fight your charges vehemently. 

That’s exactly what we do, Combs Waterkotte fights aggressively to ensure your charges are minimized. Contact us today for a free case evaluation so we can start working on your case as soon as possible.