A young father, Travion Sheffield, is sought after by Atlanta Police after he allegedly kicked in the door of his child's mother's home in Fulton County. According to reports, after breaking into the home, Sheffield took their 2-month-old daughter from the home. The mother called authorities immediately, but the initial search for the infant came up empty.
The case was still under investigation when a family member returned the infant to her mother – thankfully unharmed and without incident. The Atlanta Police are still looking for Sheffield on charges of kidnapping.
Crimes such as kidnapping, especially when a child is involved, are taken very seriously in our state. As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I will focus today's post on the law behind kidnapping and explain what constitutes this offense.
Kidnapping in Georgia
The Georgia Code defines kidnapping in Georgia as:
A person commits the offense of kidnapping when such person abducts or steals away another person without lawful authority or warrant and holds such other person against his or her will. O.C.G.A. §16-5-40.
Georgia Courts hold that even mere asportation (a slight movement) is enough to constitute the crime of kidnapping. However, if the movement of the alleged victim is the result of the commission of another crime, the movement does not constitute kidnapping. These movements that are incidental to other crimes include: concealing or isolating the victim, moving the victim to make the crime easier, or avoiding apprehension.
In order to be found guilty and convicted of kidnapping, the prosecution or the state of Georgia must prove that the accused kidnapper is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Kidnapping in Georgia is classified as a felony offense. Therefore, if convicted of kidnapping, there are serious and substantial penalties. The delineations of penalties are as follows:
- If the victim is under 14 years old, then the penalty is a life sentence or a 20 year prison sentence and probation for life after release from prison.
- If the victim is over 14 years old, then the penalty is a prison term between 10 and 20 years.
No one is to be assumed guilty just because they have been accused of committing a crime. Everyone has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There are Georgia Criminal Defenses that apply to a Georgia kidnapping charge. These defenses can include but are not limited to:
- Protection of a child from imminent harm.
- The victim was never actually moved. (Accused could still face a Georgia false imprisonment charge.)
- Consent of the victim.
As I said, this is not a comprehensive list of the defenses that can be applied, and no one should attempt to represent and defend themselves against a charge – especially not one as serious as a felony.
If you or a loved one has been accused of committing a crime in Georgia, contact a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney as quickly as possible. Your case will not defend itself, and your defense should start now.