Kidnapping, Unlawful Restraint and Smuggling of Persons
Texas law defines the unlawful restraint of a person as an act intentionally or knowingly taken which restrains another person. Under Texas law restraining someone can mean a number of different things including: restricting a person’s movements without their consent to an extent that it substantially interferes with that person’s liberty, by moving a person from one place to another without their consent, or by confining the person to specific area or place. Unlawful restraint is usually charged as a Class A misdemeanor except in certain special circumstances:
Third degree kidnapping is defined under Texas law as the act of intentionally or knowingly abducting another person. According to Section 20.03 of the Texas Penal Code, however, an affirmative defense to these charges can be made if the individual abducted was a relative of the defendant and if no threat of deadly force was implied or made during the incident. This can be the case in non-custodial parental abductions and other kidnapping cases in which family members abduct children without force or threat of violence.
Second degree kidnapping cases may involve ransom demands, use of the victim as a shield or as a hostage, or may result as part of other felonious activities. If hostages or captives are not harmed and are released voluntarily in a safe place, however, the kidnapping offense is considered a second degree felony rather than a first degree felony.
First degree kidnapping charges are brought against individuals who take hostages, hold individuals or groups for ransom, use force or terroristic threats to enforce their will on others, or kidnap individuals to disrupt government and political events or to aid in their escape during or after the commission of a felony or felonies.
Unlawful restraint is usually a lesser offense that is charged as a class A misdemeanor except in certain special circumstances:
If the victim was under 17, Texas law considers the offense a state jail felony.
If the victim was a public servant and was restrained during the performance of his or her duties, the resulting charge will be for third degree felony unlawful restraint.
If the victim was endangered and threatened with bodily injury while restrained, the offense is considered a third degree felony.
Texas law defines the smuggling of persons as transporting someone with the intent to conceal that person from law enforcement officials. Smuggling of persons is a state jail felony unless it was committed for financial benefit or the there was a likelihood of serious bodily injury or death which is a third degree felony. These charges do not typically apply in cases of non-custodial parent or guardian abductions.
If you have been arrested for or charged with kidnapping, unlawful restraint or smuggling of persons, obtaining help from a Houston criminal defense attorney immediately can help you preserve your rights and avoid missteps that can seriously damage your case. Matthew Gallagher is an established Houston criminal attorney with experience defending criminal cases such as these. Matthew Gallagher will provide you with the expertise, support and guidance you need to navigate the difficult situation you are facing.