Differences Between False Imprisonment and Kidnapping in Georgia
The offenses of false imprisonment and kidnapping share some similarities, and often, people are confused when they are charged with one instead of the other. Knowing the differences between false imprisonment and kidnapping can help you better understand the reasoning behind the charge and understand what defenses are best. If you or a loved one has been charged with either kidnapping or false imprisonment, contact our office today. We have decades of experience defending criminal charges and are ready to help with your case now. Call now.
Kidnapping Charges in Georgia
According to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-40, kidnapping occurs when a person abducts or steals away another person without lawful authority or warrant and holds such other person against his or her will.
Kidnapping can be in the first or second degree and can be done for political purposes, ransom, or other reasons. Kidnapping involves the moving of a person, and that is what separates it from false imprisonment. This movement is also called asportation.
What Constitutes Asportation?
According to O.C.G.A. § 16-5-40(b), slight movement shall be sufficient for kidnapping to occur. However, slight movement of a person during the commission of another crime does not constitute kidnapping if the movement was incident to the other crime.
Movement shall not be considered merely incidental to another offense if it:
(A) Conceals or isolates the victim;
(B) Makes the commission of the other offense substantially easier;
(C) Lessens the risk of detection; or
(D) Is for the purpose of avoiding apprehension.
In the case of Hargrove v. State, the court found that the movement of the victim to the bathroom did not establish the asportation element of kidnapping. Their reasoning was based on the fact that the movement was of minimal duration, it occurred as part of the assault and battery, and the moment did not present a significant danger to the victim independent of the danger she already faced. Furthermore, the court considered that the defendant continued to assault the victim after she was dragged into the other room. 303 Ga. App. 232, (2010).
Courts have found that grabbing a person that was walking by your house and pulling them inside is considered kidnapping. Some additional examples of kidnapping include:
- In the case of Arnold v. State, the accused was convicted of kidnapping and rape. The facts showed that the accused dragged the victim out into her neighbor's yard and then proceeded to rape the victim. The court found that even though the movement may not have been lengthy, the movement was of sufficient duration. Additionally, the movement did not occur during the commission of a separate offense. The evidence showed that the rape happened after the victim was dragged. Therefore, the court found the accused guilty of kidnapping. 324 Ga. app. 58, (2013).
- In the case of Lester v. State, the defendant was convicted of kidnapping when he approached the victim in the university parking lot and ordered her into the car. She was detained in the car for a couple of hours and then was released where she reported the crimes to an officer. 309 Ga. App. 1, (2011).
Penalty for Kidnapping in Georgia
A kidnapping conviction comes with substantial penalties as it is classified as a felony conviction. The consequences for kidnapping a victim who is 14 years or older include a prison term between ten and twenty years. However, if the victim is under 14 years old, then the penalty is elevated to either a life sentence or a prison term between twenty years but less than life with probation for life after getting out of prison. A suspect will receive life in prison or the death penalty if the kidnapping was for ransom or if the victim received bodily injury.
False Imprisonment Charge in Georgia
A person commits the offense of false imprisonment ,when, in violation of the personal liberty of another, he arrests, confines, or details such person without legal authority. O.C.G.A. § 16-5-41. A false imprisonment charge can also give rise to a civil claim for damages. The main idea behind false imprisonment is that the person detaining you had no legal justification.
To sustain a conviction for false imprisonment, the State must show evidence of an arrest, confinement, or detention. The detention can be for a short amount of time. Taylor v. State, 344 Ga. App. 122, (2017).
Examples of false imprisonment include:
- Officers detaining a suspect without a warrant or probable cause.
- The accused shoved the victim onto the bed when she attempted to leave the bedroom and tied her hands. Nguyen v. State, 2019 WL 3162065.
- The Court deemed a victim was falsely imprisoned during the commission of armed robbery where the victim testified that gunman held the victim at gunpoint and that he was not free to leave during the robbery. Ray v. State, 228 Ga. App. 822, (2016).
A situation that would not constitute false imprisonment occurred in Miller v. State. The defendant's child and great-grandson chose to flee into the bedroom and barricade themselves. At trial, they argued they were falsely imprisoned bu the Court decided there was insufficient evidence for false imprisonment because they entered the bedroom of their own volition. 305 Ga. 276, (2019).
Penalty for False Imprisonment in Georgia
If convicted of false imprisonment, the crime will be charged as a felony punishable by a prison term between one and ten years.
It is important to note that a person could be charged and convicted of BOTH false imprisonment and kidnapping.
In the cases of Taylor v. State and Mayes v. State, the Court found the accused guilty of both false imprisonment and kidnapping.
In Taylor v. State, the accused was convicted of false imprisonment based on the evidence showing that the accused held the victim at gunpoint in various places in her apartment and did not permit her to leave. Furthermore, the Court found sufficient evidence to support a kidnapping charge as well. The evidence presented showed that the accused moved the victim from room to room to help aid in the ongoing robbery of the apartment. The act of moving the victim allowed the accused and the accomplices to remain together and more easily communicate and coordinate their efforts from the same room of the apartment while asking the victim about the location of money and other items. Taylor v. State, 344 Ga. App. 122, (2017).
In Mayes v. State, the defendant was convicted of false imprisonment when he offered a ride to the victim, promising to drive her home. The victim willingly got into the defendant's car, but instead of taking her home, he made multiple stops and refused to let her out of the vehicle. The court also found evidence of kidnapping where testimony showed that earlier that night, the defendant grabbed the victim's arm when she tried to walk away from his car, pulled her back into the car, and then drove her to his apartment. The victim was afraid, confused, and had difficultly walking and speaking. The Court concluded that there was sufficient evidence to support kidnapping as well. Mayes v. State, 336 Ga. App. 55, (2016).
No Matter if You Have Been Charged with Kidnapping or False Imprisonment, We Can Help
Having experienced and knowledgeable representation is of the utmost importance when facing criminal charges. Your Kidnapping or False Imprisonment Lawyer in Georgia will carefully investigate your case and evaluate your options. They will be available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our false imprisonment and kidnapping lawyers at Lawson and Berry will help you fight the charges and avoid a conviction. Contact us today for a free evaluation.