Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney Explains: Abduction in Virginia
Simple Abduction in Virginia is punishable as a Class 5 felony, up to 10 years imprisonment.
Simple Abduction typically involves the following - A person:
- by force, intimidation, or deception
- without legal excuse or justification
- seizes, takes, transports, detains or secretes another person
- with the intent to deprive such other person of his personal liberty
Under Virginia law, Abduction includes the traditional concept of False Imprisonment and Kidnapping. It does not matter if a person is moved from one place to another; if you lock somebody in a room that could constitute an Abduction though you have taken them nowhere. Additionally, if you secrete or conceal a person (hide them) from another person or authority lawfully entitled to take charge of that person, an Abduction is committed. Efforts at forced labor and parental disregard of custody orders can also be the subject of Simple Abduction. In instances of parental abduction, it is only a felony if the child is taken out of the Commonwealth.
Relatively speaking, Simple Abduction is a lesser felony in the scheme of felony offenses. However, it is a serious offense. Under Virginia's bail statute, a person charged with Simple Abduction suffers a presumption against bond. And, if an individual abducts a minor, or person who is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated, they must register on the Virginia Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry - it matters not that the Abduction may have been for a non-sexual purpose. In fact, if the Abduction was for a sexual purpose (see below), registration is required for life as a Sexually Violent Offense.
George Freeman is a former prosecutor and experienced serious felony crimes attorney. Contact Mr. Freeman today, a Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer, for a free consultation to discuss your case.
Virginia has as an "Aggravated" Abduction statute that is punishable by up to Life in prison or any term not less than 20 years. What makes a Simple Abduction an aggravated offense is the specific intent of the person committing the Abduction. Specific intent is a heightened mental state under criminal law. It essentially means that you commit an act not only intentionally, but with a specific goal in mind - in criminal law, this goal or purpose usually manifests a more sinister end than the underlying action. Sometimes the specific intent is realized - if this occurs, very likely other crimes have now been committed.
Specific Intent added to Simple Abduction for the enhanced penalty:
- abduction with intent to defile (sexually abuse)
- abduction with intent to extort money or other thing of value
- abduction of a minor under 16 for prostitution or illicit sexual relationship
- abduction of a minor for purposes of producing pornography
These offenses, except for Abduction for Financial Gain, require registration on the Sex Offender Registry. Abduction for Financial Gain requires registration if the victim is a minor or physically helpless or mentally incapacitated. Additionally, aggravated abduction offenses require, if an individual is not sentenced to Life in Prison, at least 40 years of incarceration be suspended for the duration of the individual's life in addition to whatever active incarceration is imposed. This double penalty enhancement does not apply to Abduction for Financial Gain. This is one of the most seriously punished offenses in the Commonwealth.
A person charged with Aggravated Abduction may have a viable defense - specific intent can be very difficult to prove absent a confession, especially beyond a reasonable doubt. Not every restraint or movement of a person constitutes even a Simple Abduction. Like all cases, the particular facts and circumstances are unique and must be viewed in totality. The merits of the Commonwealth's evidence must be analyzed thoroughly to appreciate what outcomes are possible and what choices are best.
When knowledge, skill and experience matter most, trust in a seasoned jury trial attorney. George Freeman has tried many cases involving Abduction and related offenses - contact Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney George Freeman today to discuss your case.