Articles Posted in Kidnapping

It has been a while since we have discussed the Ahmad Arbery case. The three men convicted of killing Arbery faced state murder charges in Georgia. Each was convicted on felony murder or malice murder charges, with the ringleader facing the harshest charges of the three. But their problems did not stop there. The federal government also wanted a piece of the men and convicted them on additional charges.

This does not happen very often, but the federal government can increase the misery of certain individuals by filing federal charges against those who have already been convicted of state-level charges. In the case of the Arbery killers, the three men were tried and convicted of murder based only on the facts of the crime. In other words, the Georgia prosecutors avoided bringing race into the prosecution at all. It was a tricky maneuver because everyone knew that this was a racially motivated attack. But Georgia has a large population of rural whites, which makes it among the most conservative states in the country next to neighboring Alabama. 

So state prosecutors decided to try the three men based on the facts of the altercation with Arbery and successfully gained convictions when the defendants failed to prove that Arbery had a weapon or was a threat when they rode him down in their pickup.

Strange headline, but nonetheless, true. A Gary Councilman (Ronald G. Brewer), who had his Lexus stolen, tracked the thieves back to Chicago where he caught up with them. He was accused of discharging his weapon at the teens, confining them against their will, and taking one of the teens back to Gary with him. The charges against him have all been dismissed after the former councilman completed a pretrial diversion program. It is unclear what that pretrial diversion was, but it very easily could have been an anger management program.

At the time of the incident, Brewer was the president of the Gary city council.

Where is the Crime?

louis-reed-747388-unsplash-copy-300x200Bruce Lindahl has been linked to the 1976 murder of a Woodridge teenager and is a suspect in 12 murders and nine rapes. The one thing that Lindahl has going in his favor, however, is that he is already dead. Lindahl died in 1981 before DNA technology would be combined with databases to help route out serial murderers and rapists. To date, several tips have been phoned in concerning Lindahl, and more are expected. 

Investigators believe that Lindahl committed at least nine murders and there is a high chance that he may be linked to three others. Of the rapes, several of his victims have died, but there are also some who are still alive. 

The case of 16-year-old Pamela Maurer was cold for over 40 years before police used a “new kind of DNA analysis” to link Lindahl to the murder. This same method was used to identify the “Golden State Killer” who authorities believe is responsible for several murders and rapes in California. 

raban-haaijk-118657-copy-225x300Uber driver, Ahmed Tawfeeq, was recently sentenced to five years for sexually assaulting one of his passengers. Now, he will face additional charges alleging that he attempted to hire someone to hurt, silence, or threaten her

The charges against Tawfeeq included criminal sexual abuse, promoting prostitution, attempted sexual assault, aggravated battery, and unlawful restraint. 

Now, Tawfeeq will appear as a defendant in a second trial alleging that he posted bond for a fellow inmate and offered him another $6,000 to “kidnap” the complainant in an apparent attempt to silence or intimidate her. 

simon-migaj-423321-unsplash-copy-300x200A man from Central Illinois was sentenced to 48 years in prison for the death of another man during a kidnapping.

Danny Smith Jr., a 30-year-old from Peoria, was given a prison sentence of 48 years after the death of 41-year-old Maunds Bryant of Normal Illinois. Smith allegedly kidnapped Bryant to steal Bryant’s recent lottery winnings. Bryant and his family won $420,000 from the Illinois State Lottery. After the abduction, Smith demanded $25,000 in ransom.

Smith, according to prosecutors, kidnapped Bryant and Bryant’s stepfather. During the course of the crime, Bryant fell. He sustained a head injury from which he later died.

kevin-gent-219197-copy-300x200Kidnapping is a serious crime in the United States that is most often defined as taking someone against his or her will to another location or holding that person in a controlled environment. It is possible that in some instances there must be an illegal activity associated with the act of kidnapping, in order for charges to be filed, such as extorting the victim or a relative or facilitating another type of crime. There are also times when parents have been charged with kidnapping their own child, especially if they do not have primary physical custody of the child. Today, we will take a look at kidnapping laws in Illinois and throughout the country.

Federal Kidnapping Laws

Federal kidnapping laws govern this crime all across the United States, not just in one state or another. This means that being charged with kidnapping in Chicago can come with federal charges if the crime meets the federal requirements. The federal laws governing kidnapping make it a serious felony charge that could result in up to 20 years or more in federal prison. The sentence issued for a federal kidnapping case depends on the prior record of the defendant and other circumstances surrounding the crime.

kira-auf-der-heide-352824-unsplash-copy-200x300Are you facing kidnapping charges in the Chicago area? Are you worried that the charges will land you in jail for a long time? Regardless of your situation, the best thing you can do when charged with kidnapping is hire a criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and provide you with an honest assessment. An experienced lawyer will also be able to help you build one of the defenses to kidnapping charges outlined below.

The Victim Gave Consent

One of the most common defenses used against kidnapping charges is that the victim actually gave consent. This means that the person who went with the alleged kidnapper originally did so because he or she wanted to do so. At some point during their travels the ‘victim’ decided that they no longer wanted to be with the kidnapper and became fearful, regretful, or angry. This is usually what then leads to the claim of kidnapping and the subsequent arrest and charges filed.

A 6-year-old boy from East Moline who was kidnapped in Illinois and taken to Thailand was recently returned home safe and sound. Interestingly, the man who kidnapped the boy is actually his own father. According to WTHITV 10, the boy was not returned to his mother on June 19th after a court arranged visitation with his estranged father. The next day, the East Moline Police Department issued a warrant for the father’s arrest and, after working with several federal agencies, was able to track the father to Bangkok where he had been detained by local authorities for an immigration violation. The kidnapped child was turned over to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok and was returned to his mother on July 12th. According to the authorities, the father has been charged with kidnapping.

Is it Possible to Kidnap Your Own Child?

In Illinois, a person can be convicted of kidnapping (720 ILCS 5/10-1) if they knowingly and secretly confine another against his or her will:

If you watch the news or use social media, you no doubt heard about a pair of Washington state siblings who thwarted a potential kidnapping of their 22-month-old brother. The attempted kidnapping – which was caught on camera and shows the kidnapper running away with the boy in his arms, the siblings running close behind – is every parent’s worst nightmare and reinforces the idea of “stranger danger.” But kidnapping encompasses much more than that.


Illinois Kidnapping Laws

In Illinois, a person commits the crime of kidnapping if he knowingly:

  1. And secretly confines another against his will;
  2. Carries a person from one place to another, by force or threat of force, with the intent to secretly confine her against her will, or;
  3. Tricks or entices a person to accompany him to another location with the intent to secretly confine the person against his will.

I will discuss each crime separately, to provide a better understanding of the types of actions that can constitute kidnapping under Illinois laws.

Secretly confine against one’s will

This form of kidnapping does not require that the victim be moved to another location or even be snatched off the street. The victim must only be confined against her will. The confinement can occur in any public or private place – even the victim’s own home. The location itself, or how the victim got there, is irrelevant to whether the crime was committed. The victim must have only had a reasonable belief that she was unable to leave.

Carry a person from one place to another

This is the most commonly thought of kidnapping scenario, the unknown assailant attacking a person on the street, or removing a child from his home in the middle of the night, and moving him to a secret location to be held for ransom. The movement does not need to be very far to fall into this category of kidnapping. A victim can be pushed into the kidnapper’s car and driven a block away to an abandoned building, and it would constitute a kidnapping.

Using tricks or enticement to move a person

Again, the typical scenario that comes to mind is the stranger in the car who tells the child, “Come with me and I’ll show you my puppy.” In this form of kidnapping, the victim willingly goes with the kidnapper, but under false pretenses.

The ‘knowingly’ requirement

Kidnapping is a specific intent crime, which means that the kidnapper must have known he was holding the victim against her will. If the kidnapper had a reasonable belief that the victim consented to being held, or consented to accompany him to a third location, then he failed to commit an essential element of the crime and cannot be convicted.

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A Cook County man was arrested last week and charged with felony aggravated domestic battery after allegedly grabbing a female friend and dragging her in to her garage and refusing to let her call for help for almost 24 hours. Although arrest documents include a kidnapping charge, the Cook County state’s attorney only charged the defendant with battery.


Illinois Kidnapping Laws

The word kidnapping makes most people imagine a person being snatched off the street, moved to a secret location and held for ransom. And while those actions do constitute a kidnapping, it is not the only way the crime can be committed.

Under Illinois law a kidnapping can be committed if a person “knowingly and secretly confines another against his or her will.” The facts of this case make it possible for a kidnapping to have occurred, but only if the defendant knowingly confined the victim against her will. This means that he had to have intended to confine her in the home. The fact that she felt she was unable to leave, absent some outward showing by him that she was unable to, is insufficient to support a kidnapping charge. In other words, her belief that she was held against her will must have been reasonable based on all of the circumstances.

In defending against a kidnapping charge similar to this, we would look closely at the following to determine whether the defendant “knowingly” confined the alleged victim:

  • His intent;
  • Whether he said anything that could have reasonably caused the victim to feel that she was unable to leave;
  • Whether he physically prevented her from leaving, either by the use of restraints or blocking the doors and windows;
  • Whether he cut or otherwise disabled the landline phone to prevent her from calling for help, or;
  • Whether he hid her cell phone or kept it on him so that she couldn’t get it, or whether it was out in the open and easily accessible.

If the answers to these questions are no, then the likelihood is high that a jury could be convinced that the victim’s belief that she could not leave the home were unreasonable, and the defendant could not be convicted of the crime.

At this point it is unclear why the state’s attorney did not indict on the kidnapping charge. The victim indicated that the defendant left her home at 10:45 a.m., approximately 9 hours after the battery was committed. The fact that he voluntarily left her home without causing any additional harm raises doubts that he intended to confine her. It seems likely that upon further investigation, the prosecutor found that the answers to at some of the questions posed above raised reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant knowingly confined the victim, as required under the statute, and declined to file kidnapping charges because there was insufficient evidence to support it. Continue reading

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