Kidnapping is a serious felony crime in Florida that comes with potentially serious penalties. When most people think of kidnapping, they probably assume it requires a suspect to take a person against his/her will, transport them somewhere and hold them without letting them leave for some period of time. That would be kidnapping, but the Florida law requires less than that for a conviction. In Florida, the crime of kidnapping is committed when a person confines or abducts a person against his/her will by force, threat of force or secretly for an illegal purpose such as holding for ransom, to commit a felony or to harm the person. Kidnapping is a first degree felony in Florida punishable by up to life in prison.
Notwithstanding what most people think kidnapping is, that definition is fairly broad and can include a lot of conduct that does not last very long. For instance, in a recent kidnapping case south of Jacksonville, Florida, the defendant committed an armed robbery of a liquor store. Armed robbery, in and of itself, is a serious felony crime in Florida, but in addition to robbing the store with a gun, the defendant also tied the cashier’s hands behind his back and left him that way as he robbed and left the store. The cashier had to seek help to get untied.
Because he tied up the cashier and left him there, the state charged him with kidnapping in addition to armed robbery which resulted in an extra 20 years in prison. The criminal defense lawyer argued that tying the cashier up was just part of the armed robbery and not sufficient for an entirely separate charge of kidnapping. This is a valid argument, but the court determined that it can also be kidnapping under certain circumstances. The test for whether a kidnapping charge can be added is whether the conduct was a slight part of the crime and inconsequential, whether the conduct was inherent in the underlying crime and whether the conduct has some significance independent of the underlying crime, such as making it easier to commit the crime or decreasing the risk of being caught. In this case, the court noted that armed robbery can be committed without tying up the victim. By doing so, the defendant committed a separate and significant act that helped him commit the crime and was designed to help him get away with it. As a result, tying the cashier up was found to be significant and independent of the underlying armed robbery so that an additional charge of kidnapping was valid.