Forcibly moving someone over a considerable distance is regarded as violating PC 207. Similarly, if you hold and restrain another individual against their will using force or instilling fear, it also falls under the purview of a PC 207 violation.

Simple kidnapping is a felony and carries a potential prison sentence of up to eight years. However, the penalties can escalate to a life sentence if the victim suffered harm, was a child, ransom was demanded, or the kidnapping was linked to a carjacking.

Here at the California Criminal Lawyer Group, we stand ready to provide legal support to you or a loved one facing kidnapping charges in Anaheim.

What Kidnapping Means Under California Law

Kidnapping happens if you move someone else without their consent through fear or force. PC 207 encompasses various elements that the prosecution must prove before the court can convict you. These include:

You “Moved” Someone Else

Before your act could qualify as “kidnapping,” the prosecution must prove that you moved the plaintiff over a significant distance. The legal definition of "movement" is not confined to a trivial or insignificant distance. Instead, the distance covered must be long enough to meet the criteria for a kidnapping charge.

Whether the victim’s movement meets this criterion depends on several factors, including the distance covered, the potential risk of harming the victim during the movement, and the possibility of avoiding detection.

Below are some of the scenarios that involve “substantial movement:”

  • You moved the accuser 30 feet from outside a guest house door into the washroom to facilitate rape. This suggests that you intended to evade detection and enable the crime through the movement.
  • During a carjacking, you moved three victims 900 feet on the highway at night. This demonstrates the substantial distance covered to commit the offense.

Also, some cases cannot justify PC 207 charges, including:

  • Moving the accuser from the door of a laundromat to the pantry. Such an act does not constitute sufficient movement since the incident occurred within an insignificant distance.
  • Moving a victim approximately 50 feet across a basketball court at gunpoint. This distance moved is not enough to secure a conviction under PC 207, as the movement did not subject the accuser to the risk of harm over that short distance.

Since no fixed or predefined distance qualifies as substantial, the determination is left to the court's discretion, making it a point of contention that your defense lawyer can challenge.

Movement Against the Victim’s Will

Per PC 207, kidnapping occurs when you move the plaintiff against their will, and they do not consent to go with you. The lack of consent is an element that the prosecution must establish in a kidnapping case.

The law considers certain individuals incapable of giving consent, and they include:

  • Minors, particularly those under 14 years old. Any movement of such children without their
    agreement may lead to kidnapping charges.
  • Mentally incapacitated people because of a mental condition or impairment.

Fear, Force, Or Fraud

Fear, force, or fraud are significant elements that can lead to your conviction. The element of "fear, force, or fraud" is closely related to the absence of consent in kidnapping cases. You must have used threats, violence, or deception to accomplish the plaintiff's movement against their will.


Fraud, as an element of kidnapping, involves deliberately deceiving an individual to secure compliance with the movement. Fraudulent methods, without elements of fear or force, cannot constitute kidnapping. Instead, fraud is involved under specific aggravated circumstances, such as:

  • Kidnapping a Minor for Lewd Acts - Per California PC 288.
  • Kidnapping for Slavery or Involuntary Servitude.
  • Interstate Kidnapping by Fraud.

In fraud cases, the perpetrator uses false promises, misleading representations, or misrepresentations of intentions to convince the accuser to accept being moved. However, consent achieved through fraud is equivalent to no consent at all, as it does not meet the requirements of genuine, informed consent.

For example, you want to kidnap a minor who is seven years old. You approach the child and convince them to board your car by falsely claiming that you seek a donation for charses from their parents. The child, trusting your words, agrees to board your car, believing you will drive them home to meet their parents. However, instead of taking the child home, you drive them to a remote cabin, disguise them, and commit heinous acts of sexual abuse, holding them against their will for several years.

In the above example, your fraudulent representation of seeking a religious donation led the child to "consent" to being moved. However, this consent was based on deceit and false information, making it fraudulent. Consequently, the kidnapping charges stem from the absence of genuine consent due to fraudulent means.

Legal Defenses To A PC 207 Violation

You will need a defense lawyer when facing PC 207 violation charges. Your criminal attorney will review your case and understand the legal defenses they should mount to fight the charges. You could use the following defenses:

The Alleged Victim Consented To Be Moved

If the victim willingly agreed to accompany you and there was no use of fear, force, or fraud to compel them, the kidnapping charge might not stand strong in court. A skilled criminal attorney can present this defense and argue that the victim's consent negates the kidnapping accusation.

In legal terms, consent means that the victim did not protest or resist the movement and voluntarily agreed to go with you. This defense becomes significant in cases where the movement was not forced upon the victim, and they willingly participated in the action.

For example, you contact Kellen, and after an agreement, you embark on a spontaneous road trip with no specific destination in mind. If Kellen willingly agreed to be part of the trip and voluntarily accompanied you, it would be challenging to establish a kidnapping case, as there was no use of force, fear, or fraud to move her against her will.

The consent defense has certain limitations. If, at any point during the trip, the victim withdraws their consent and expresses a desire to return home or stop the movement, and you continue moving them against their will, the defense of consent would no longer be valid. In such a scenario, the kidnapping charge can still hold weight based on the actions following the consent withdrawal.

Reasonable Belief In Consent or Good Faith

If you genuinely believe the accuser accepted being moved based on their behavior or communication, this belief can be presented as a defense. In such cases, you may argue that you lacked the criminal intent necessary for a kidnapping conviction.

For example, you met a woman in a park and accompanied her to a mall to shop for clothes and then back to your apartment. The victim later claimed that you forced her into going with you, but you argued that she willingly agreed to follow you. You cannot face conviction for kidnapping because the woman willingly agreed to move with you.

The Movement Was Insufficient To Constitute Kidnapping

If the movement is deemed to be slight, trivial, or not significant enough to cause harm or increase risk, it may not meet the criteria for kidnapping, and this can be used as a defense in court.

The movement must be more than incidental to the underlying crime or objective. If the movement is minimal and does not substantially contribute to the commission of the offense or create an increased risk to the alleged victim, it may not meet the threshold for kidnapping.

Although You Were present, You Are Not The Perpetrator

In an unfortunate circumstance, you could face kidnapping charges despite not actively participating in the kidnapping itself. Your defense lawyer could fight your charges if you were merely present during the incident but had no direct involvement in planning or carrying out the abduction.

For example, John and Eric drive to the gas station for a refill. While John waits in the vehicle, Eric alights to pay. After a few minutes, he returns to the car with cash and the gas station clerk. Unbeknownst to John, Eric's friend had just robbed the gas station and was attempting to kidnap the clerk to prevent her from reporting the crime.

Later, the police stop the vehicle for speeding, and the clerk informs them about what happened. Both John and Eric Face arrest for kidnapping and robbery. However, as the investigation unfolds, it becomes evident that John does not know of Eric's plan and does not know his criminal intentions. In legal terms, John was "merely present" during the incident.

Being "merely present" means that John had no active participation in or knowledge of the criminal act. This defense comes into play when there is a lack of evidence connecting you to the kidnapping plot, and it can serve as a strong defense in court.

However, if John knew of Eric's criminal intentions and willingly followed the plan, he could face charges of aiding and abetting kidnapping. Aiding and abetting occurs when you knowingly assist, encourage, or facilitate another person's commission of a crime.

For the judge to convict you of aiding or abetting a crime, the prosecutor must show the following:

  • You knew about the perpetrator's illegal plan.
  • You intentionally encouraged or facilitated the plan.
  • You either promoted or instigated the offense or failed to curtail it while you had the chance to do so.

If convicted of aiding or abetting kidnapping, you may face the same sentence as the perpetrator of the crime.

Insufficient Evidence or False Accusations

Law enforcement could use the alleged victim's words without sufficient corroborating evidence to support the accusations of kidnapping against you. In such a scenario, your defense lawyer could use the defense of insufficient evidence or false accusations.

When there is a lack of credible evidence to substantiate the kidnapping allegations, your defense attorney can argue that your criminal case rests solely on he-said-she-said accusations, which may not be enough to secure a conviction.

False accusations can arise from various emotional motivations, such as anger, jealousy, or revenge. Sometimes, individuals may falsely accuse others to gain an advantage over them or to exert control, especially in contentious custody battles.

For example, you are charged with simple kidnapping, the prosecution's case relies solely on the alleged victim's testimony. There are no credible eyewitnesses, surveillance footage, phone call records, or text messages to support the allegations.

Your defense attorney can argue that the lack of corroborating evidence raises doubts about the integrity of the accusations. They can highlight the absence of independent witnesses or other evidence to strengthen the case against you.

Without concrete evidence, the victim’s credibility becomes critical in the case. Jurors may question the reliability of the allegations if there is no additional proof to back them up.

Moreover, false accusations can be effectively challenged through a rigorous cross-examination of the accuser. Your attorney may aim to expose inconsistencies in their statements or potential ulterior motives for making the allegations.

Sometimes, false accusations can emerge from misunderstandings, miscommunication, or even mistaken identity. Your attorney will work diligently to investigate the alleged incident's details and uncover any discrepancies that cast doubt on the accusations.

Parents Can Travel With Their Children

Under California law, parents with legal custody of their children have the right to travel with them without necessarily facing kidnapping charges. However, you should be aware of important considerations and exceptions to this defense.

For example, you are a parent with legal custody of your child and go on a vacation with your child without the other parent's permission. In this scenario, you cannot face kidnapping charges, as you exercise your rights as a custodial parent to spend time and travel with your child.

However, if you have illegal intentions or engage in criminal activities while traveling with your child, the defense of parental rights may not apply. Engaging in criminal conduct during the trip can lead to separate charges, such as deprivation of a child custody order under Penal Code 278.5.

Engaging in illegal activities, even while in the company of your child, will not protect you from potential kidnapping charges.

As a parent, you are responsible for acting in your child's best interests, including ensuring their safety and well-being during any travel or activities you undertake together. Parental rights are not licenses to commit crimes or engage in harmful behavior.

Statutory Exceptions

There are specific statutory exceptions that may serve as defenses to kidnapping charges. These exceptions offer you potential legal protection when certain circumstances are met.

Under California law, you cannot face a kidnapping conviction if you take, steal, conceal, or harbor a minor under 14 years of age to protect that child from imminent harm. This exception recognizes that, in certain situations, removing a child from harm's way may be necessary to ensure their safety and well-being.

You are not guilty of kidnapping if you legally place another person under a citizen's arrest, as defined in PC 837. A citizen's arrest is made by a private individual who witnesses a felony being committed or has evidence to show that a felony has been committed.

For example, you witnessed a person committing a serious felony, such as an armed robbery, and you detained the individual until law enforcement authorities arrived. Your actions would be considered a legal citizen's arrest, not kidnapping, in such a situation.

Possible Punishments, Penalties, and Sentences For Kidnapping In California

You might wonder what happens if you are found guilty of kidnapping. The consequences are serious and can drastically alter your life. Below are the potential penalties:

Simple Kidnapping, Penal Code 207 and 208

Simple kidnapping is charged as a felony offense in California. If you are found guilty of simple kidnapping, you could be facing a 3, 5, or even 8-year prison sentence. There is also the possibility of a hefty fine of up to $10,000.

Aggravated Kidnapping (for ransom), Penal Code 208b

Aggravated kidnapping in California is an even more serious offense than simple kidnapping, especially when it involves a ransom. The consequences are:

  • You could serve a 5, 8, or even 11-year prison sentence if the accuser is under the age of 14.
  • You could be sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole if you kidnap the plaintiff for ransom, a reward, or to commit other serious crimes.
  • You will be registered as a tier 3 sex offender for life If you commit aggravated kidnapping.
  • Aggravate kidnapping occurs when you attempt to commit rape, sodomy, forcible penetration with a foreign object, oral copulation with a minor, or lewd acts with a minor under 14.
  • Aggravated kidnapping can also result from carjacking, which means forcibly taking someone's vehicle with them inside it.

California’s Three Strikes Law

If you are found guilty of violating California's kidnapping law, it may count as a "strike" under this law, leading to severe and life-changing consequences. Below is how the three strikes law works and the potential implications it holds:

  • A conviction for kidnapping will be considered a "strike" on your criminal record for both simple and aggravated kidnapping convictions.
  • If you face charges for a subsequent felony after having one prior "strike" on your record, it is considered a "second strike." In such cases, your time in prison is twice as long. This means that the punishment for your new offense will be significantly enhanced due to your prior kidnapping conviction.
  • If you are a "third striker," you could be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. This means that regardless of the nature of the third offense, you are sentenced to spend a substantial portion of your life behind bars.

The three strikes law was enacted to deter individuals from committing serious and repeat offenses. While the law serves as a deterrent, it also means that individuals with prior kidnapping convictions will face harsher sentences for any subsequent criminal activity.

Other Crimes Are Related To Kidnapping

Examples of crimes related to kidnapping include:

Kidnapping In Connection With Extortion, California PC 210

Penal Code 210 PC addresses kidnapping for extortion. In this case, the kidnapper abducts the victim intending to obtain money, property, or some other advantage through coercion or threats. The offender aims to force the victim or their associates into complying with their demands under the threat of harm or injury.

Kidnapping During A Carjacking, California PC 209.5

Carjacking involves the theft of a motor vehicle while the driver or passenger is present. When kidnapping occurs during a carjacking incident, it falls under Penal Code 209.5 PC. This offense carries severe penalties and is considered an aggravated form of kidnapping. The defendant may be imprisoned for five, eight, or eleven years if convicted.

False Imprisonment, California PC 236

False imprisonment involves unlawfully restraining someone against their will without their consent. While false imprisonment is distinct from kidnapping, it shares similarities regarding the restraint element. False imprisonment may occur in various contexts, such as domestic disputes, confrontations, or unlawful detentions.

False imprisonment is a misdemeanor offense in California. If found guilty, the defendant may face the following penalties:

  • Serving in jail for no more than a year.
  • A fine of up to $1,000.

False Imprisonment To Protect From Arrest, California PC 210.5

Per Penal Code 210.5, false imprisonment to protect oneself or another person from being lawfully arrested occurs when someone uses unlawful restraint or confinement to prevent law enforcement from apprehending themselves or someone else.

False imprisonment to protect against arrest is a felony offense in California. If found guilty, you face the following penalties:

  • Serving in jail for no more than a year.
  • A fine of up to $1,000.

Child Abduction, California PC 278

Child abduction is a grave offense under Penal Code 278 PC, involving the unlawful taking, enticing away, or concealing of a child with the intent to deprive the lawful custodian of their right to custody. Child abduction can occur during custody disputes or in cases where one parent takes a child without the other parent's permission.

Child abduction is considered a felony offense, and If convicted, the penalties may include:

  • Imprisonment for up to four years.
  • If you have a previous child abduction conviction, you could face imprisonment for up to five years.

Deprivation Of A Child Custody Order, California PC 278.5

Deprivation of a child custody order occurs when a person intentionally and knowingly violates a valid court order relating to child custody or visitation rights. This offense is taken seriously by the law as it undermines the court's authority and jeopardizes the child's best interests.

Deprivation of a child custody order is typically treated as a misdemeanor offense in California. If convicted, the potential penalties for this offense may include:

  • A fine of up to $1,000.
  • A maximum of one year in county jail.

Find a Anaheim Criminal Lawyer Near Me

In Anaheim, CA, Kidnapping is a serious and weighty matter, carrying significant consequences. Whether you or someone you know is arrested or charged with kidnapping, hire an experienced criminal lawyer. At the California Criminal Lawyer Group, we possess the expertise to secure a favorable legal outcome for your case. Reach out to us at 714-766-0965 for support.