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Kidnapping Law & Defense

PC 207 & 209

Information on the crime of kidnapping is found at penal code sections 207 and 209. This article is intended to serve as a an overview of the law, the punishment, and the defenses that apply to kidnapping laws.

Kidnapping Laws (Abbr.):

PC 207(a): Every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, steals or takes, or holds, detains, or arrests any person in this state, and carries the person into another country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping (PC 207(a)).

PC 207(b): Every person, who for the purpose of committing any act defined in Section 288 (lewd and Lascivious acts on a minor), hires, persuades, entices, decoys, or seduces, by misrepresentations, or the like, any child under the age of 14 years to go out of this country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping (PC 207(b)).

PC 207(e): For purposes of kidnapping crimes that require force, the amount of force required to kidnap an unresisting infant or child is the amount of physical force required to take and carry the child away a substantial distance for an illegal purpose or with an illegal intent (PC 207(e)).

PC 209(a): Any person who seizes, confines, 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 any person who aids or abets any such act, is guilty of a kidnapping (PC 209(a)).

PC 209(b)(1): Any person who kidnaps or carries away any individual to commit robbery, rape, spousal rape, oral copulation, sodomy, or any violation of Section 264.1, 288, or 289, is guilty of kidnapping.

PC 209(b)(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.

In sum, most kidnapping charges require the prosecutor must prove that:

  • The defendant took, held, or detained another person by using force against the victim or by instilling reasonable fear in the victim.
  • If the defendant moved the other person, the distance must be a substantial distance. If the defendant held another person in place by force or fear than a greater risk of harm must have accompanied the restraint.
  • When the defendant is accused of committing kidnapping to commit a further felony, such as a sex crime, the defendant is usually charged with the more serious kidnapping charge of PC 209(b)(1).

Sentence for Kidnapping

Kidnapping crimes are classified as felonies in California.

PC 207(a): The most common charge of kidnapping is PC 207(a) which carries a prison sentence maximum of eight years.

PC 207(b) & 208(b): If the person kidnapped is under the age of fourteen at the time of the kidnapping the kidnapping is charged under PC 207(b) or 208(b) and is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for up to eleven years.

PC 209(b)(1): If the kidnapping is committed in the commission of a robbery or a sex offense, the crime is usually charged under PC 209(b)(1) and is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of life.

Collateral punishment for PC 207 & 209:

Strike crimes: Kidnapping crimes charged under PC 207 and 209 are considered strike offenses under California Three Strikes Sentencing Law. Therefore, a criminal conviction for any kidnapping charge will lead to harsher penalties for subsequent convictions of any felony.

Reduced custody credits: In addition, PC 207 and 209 are considered violent offenses as that term is defined in California law under PC 667.5. This means that the defendant will not earn as much good time credit in prison for good behavior and the defendant will not be eligible for early release under Prop 57 (early release for rehabilitated inmates).

Immigration consequences: Kidnapping crimes charged under PC 207 and 209 are considered crimes of violence. They are also sometimes considered crimes of moral turpitude and/or aggravated felonies, as those terms are defined in United States immigration law. This means that a non-U.S. citizen defendant will likely be deported back to his or her home county after serving any prison time in the United States for kidnapping.

Professional License: Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations gives authority to professional licensing agencies to suspend or revoke the defendant's privilege to practice in a profession upon a conviction for the crime of kidnapping. This applies to Bar, Board, and Commission members, such as doctors, dentist, lawyers, barbers, etc.

Additional penalties that accompany kidnapping criminal convictions may also include: restitution to the victim/s, loss of family law rights to children, restraining orders, fines, loss of driver's license (if the kidnapping was committed by use of a vehicle), and more.

Defense to Kidnapping PC 207, & 209

Common defenses to kidnapping charges include: Consent to move or detain the victim, Mistake of fact, insufficient evidence, self defense, defense of others, coerced confessions, statute of limitations, alibi defense, intoxication, insanity, citizen's arrest, police misconduct, and more. 

For more information on defenses to crimes please see our section on common defenses to criminal charges.

To learn more about the crime of kidnapping, or penal codes 207 and 209, contact our criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. We are experienced, aggressive in defense, and have successfully defended hundreds of criminal charges, including charges of kidnapping under PC 207 and 209. Call today!


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PC 207 & 209: Kidnapping

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Penal Code 207, & 209: Kidnapping Defense

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Crimes related to kidnapping: PC 207, 208, & 209

  • False Imprisonment PC 236
  • Kidnapping for child molestation PC 207(b), 288(a)
  • Kidnapping a person incapable of consent PC 207(a)
  • Kidnapping for ransom PC 209(a)
  • Kidnapping for reward PC 209(a)
  • Kidnapping for extortion PC 209(a)
  • Kidnapping for robbery PC 209(b)(1)
  • Kidnapping for rape PC 209(b)(1)
  • Kidnapping for sex offense PC 209(b)(1)
  • Carjacking PC 207(a), 209.5(a), 209.5(b), & 215(a)
  • Kidnapping PC 207(a)
  • Human Trafficking PC 236.1
  • Battery PC 242
  • Assault PC 245
  • Kidnapping PC 208(a) (alternate charge)
  • Kidnapping a minor PC 208(b) (alternate charge)

California Kidnapping Laws & Defense PC 207, & 209


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