A criminal offense that typically constitutes kidnapping under state law in Texas can easily become a federal offense when victims cross state lines. Several other circumstances exist under which kidnapping crimes can become federal offenses, and federal cases take on entirely new perspectives when it comes to defending against criminal charges.

Federal agencies may be more inclined to get involved in kidnapping cases near the border with Mexico, and federal kidnapping criminal penalties can involve sentences of 20 years up to life in prison. Too many alleged kidnapping cases are actually misunderstandings between parents when one parent now resides in another state.

Federal Kidnapping Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX

Are you facing federal kidnapping charges in the greater Fort Worth area, you will want to contact The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy to quickly get the best possible legal guidance for your case. Our firm can aggressively defend people facing federal charges, and we will work to ensure that you can avoid the costliest penalties.

Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (817) 422-5350 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Southlake, Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and surrounding areas of Tarrant County, TX area. We can help you better understand the nature of your charges and also examine your possible defense options.

Federal Kidnapping Charges

The Lindbergh Law, Little Lindbergh Law, or Federal Kidnapping Act is found in Title 18 U.S.C. § 1201. Congress passed the law following the abduction and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s toddler son.

The law provides that any person who unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, or carries away and holds for ransom or reward or otherwise any person, except in the case of a minor by the parent thereof, when:

  • the person is willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce, regardless of whether the person was alive when transported across a State boundary, or the alleged offender travels in interstate or foreign commerce or uses the mail or any means, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce in committing or in furtherance of the commission of the alleged offense;
  • any such act against the person is done within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States;
  • any such act against the person is done within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States;
  • the person is a foreign official, an internationally protected person, or an official guest; or
  • the person is among those officers and employees described in section 1114 of this title and any such act against the person is done while the person is engaged in, or on account of, the performance of official duties, will be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life. If the death of any person results from an alleged offense, conviction is punishable by death or life imprisonment.

With respect to 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1), the failure to release a victim within 24 hours after they were unlawfully seized, confined, inveigled, decoyed, kidnapped, abducted, or carried away creates a rebuttable presumption that such person has been transported in interstate or foreign commerce. Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, the fact that the presumption under this section has not yet taken effect does not preclude a Federal investigation of a possible violation of this section before the 24-hour period has ended.

If two or more people conspire to violate this section and one or more of such persons do any overt act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life. Whoever attempts to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a) can be punished by imprisonment for not more than 20 years.

If the victim of an offense under 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a) is an internationally protected person outside the United States, the United States may exercise jurisdiction over the offense if:

  • the victim is a representative, officer, employee, or agent of the United States
  • an alleged offender is a national of the United States, or
  • an alleged offender is afterwards found in the United States.

If the victim of an offense under this section has not attained the age of 18 years; and the offender has attained such age; and is not a parent; a grandparent; a brother; a sister; an aunt; an uncle; or an individual having legal custody of the victim; the sentence under this section for such offense shall include imprisonment for not less than 20 years.

International Parental Kidnapping

Parental kidnapping among the most common kinds of abduction imaginable. When certain situations lose control, it is always possible that one parent could remove a child outside American borders.

International parental kidnappings of American children get reported every single year. When it comes to an international parental kidnapping, the federal government often gets involved.

18 U.S.C. § 1204 makes it a criminal offense for a parent to unlawfully remove or attempt to remove their child from the country. If convicted, the parent could be incarcerated for up to three years in federal prison.

Federal law defines a child as a person who has not yet attained 16 years of age. It is an affirmative defense that:

  • An alleged offender acted within the provisions of a valid court order granting them legal custody or visitation rights and that order was obtained pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and was in effect at the time of the alleged offense;
  • An alleged offender was fleeing an incidence or pattern of domestic violence; or
  • An alleged offender had physical custody of the child pursuant to a court order granting legal custody or visitation rights and failed to return the child as a result of circumstances beyond the defendant’s control, and the alleged offender notified or made reasonable attempts to notify the other parent or lawful custodian of the child of such circumstances within 24 hours after the visitation period had expired and returned the child as soon as possible.

Law Offices of Richard C McConathy federal kidnapping

Tarrant County Federal Kidnapping Resources

International Parental Kidnapping — Visit the United States Department of Justice website to find a civilian’s guide to international parental kidnapping. Learn more about the varying scenarios involving child victims of kidnapping internationally. See how the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) can be involved in international kidnapping prosecution. With the exception of international parental kidnapping, child custody and visitation matters are handled by local and states authorities, not the federal government. The matters are governed by the relevant state family court system and human services agency. Therefore, child custody or visitation issues need to be reported to state or local law enforcement authorities or state judicial officers.

United States v. Jackson, 390 U.S. 570, 88 S. Ct. 1209 (1968) — The Federal Kidnaping Act under 18 U. S. C. § 1201 (a) provides an offense punishable by death “if the verdict of the jury shall so recommend.” The statute set forth no procedure for imposing the death penalty upon a defendant who waives the right to jury trial or upon one who pleads guilty. On October 10, 1966, a federal grand jury in Connecticut returned an indictment charging in count one that three named defendants, the appellees in this case, had transported from Connecticut to New Jersey a person who had been kidnaped and held for ransom, and who had been harmed when liberated. The District Court dismissed this count of the indictment, holding the Federal Kidnaping Act unconstitutional because it makes “the risk of death” the price for asserting the right to a jury trial, and thereby “impairs . . . free exercise” of that constitutional right. 

The Government appealed directly to this Court, and we noted probable jurisdiction. The Supreme Court of the United States reversed. The court agreed with the District Court that the death penalty provision of the Federal Kidnapping Act imposed an impermissible burden upon the exercise of a constitutional right, but the court thought that provision was severable from the remainder of the statute. There was no reason to invalidate the law in its entirety simply because its capital punishment clause violated the Constitution. The District Court, therefore, erred in dismissing the kidnapping count of the indictment. By holding the death penalty clause of the Federal kidnapping Act unenforceable, the Supreme Court left the statute an operative whole, free of any constitutional objection. The appellees could be prosecuted for violating the Act, but they could not be put to death under its authority. The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for Federal Kidnapping | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

If you are facing federal kidnapping charges the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy will know how to put forth the most aggressive defense against the charges so you can achieve a reduction in or dismissal of your criminal charges. Our firm will conduct a rigorous investigation to fully understand the case and will be able to identify the best path forward for you.

Call (817) 422-5350 or contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today for a consultation about your alleged offense in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, and surrounding areas of Denton County, Texas.

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