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Fort Worth Kidnapping Criminal Defense Lawyer

Kidnapping is a serious criminal charge in the state of Texas and can lead to serious consequences such as high fines, loss of constitutional rights, and long prison sentences. If you or a loved one have been accused of kidnapping, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. The legal team at Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC has the experience to handle the most serious of criminal defenses, and ensure that your right to a fair trial is protected.

What Is Considered Kidnapping in the State of Texas?

According to the Texas Penal Code Section 20.03, a person commits kidnapping when they intentionally or knowingly abduct another person.

To get a clearer understanding of Texas’s kidnapping law, it is important to understand two important key terms:

Abduction: Abduction is defined by Texas state law as the restraint of a person with the intent of preventing their liberation by secreting them or holding them in a place where they are not likely to be found. The victim is kept against their will and kept from leaving by using or threatening violence on them.

Restraint: Restraint is defined legally as restricting another person’s movement without their consent, interfering substantially with their liberty and/or moving them from one place to another. Consent is lacking if the following are true:

  • The victim does not give consent directly.
  • The victim is under the age of 14 and no parental consent was given.
  • The victim is between the ages of 14-17 and was taken out of the state or outside a 120-mile radius of their residence.

What Are the Different Types of Kidnapping In the State of Texas?

There are four different categories of kidnapping in the State of Texas:

  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful transport
  • Unlawful restraint

Depending on the severity of the conduct used against the victim, the charge can range from a misdemeanor to a first-degree felony charge. Here are the different types of kidnapping in more detail:


Kidnapping occurs any time an individual abducts another person, as defined by the Texas State Penal Code section 20.01. Generally, ordinary kidnapping is considered a third-degree felony and can potentially lead to the following penalties:

  • Two to 10 years in prison

  • $10,000 fine

Aggravated Kidnapping

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Aggravated kidnapping refers to someone being abducted for the following reasons:

  • To hold that individual for ransom.
  • To keep them hostage.
  • To use that individual as leverage.
  • To use them as a human shield in order to escape harm.
  • To terrorize the victim.
  • To abuse the victim in terms of bodily harm or sexual abuse.
  • To use a deadly weapon against the victim.
  • To interfere with the government or a political function.

Aggravated kidnapping is generally seen as a first-degree felony. However if the offender commits the offense but then releases the victim voluntarily into a safe place, the charge may be reduced to a second-degree felony.

A first-degree felony charge may result in:

  • Five to 99 years in prison
  • $10,000 fine

A second-degree felony may have the following consequences:

  • Two to 20 years in prison
  • $10,000 fine

Unlawful Transport

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When a person abducts an individual and hides them from law enforcement, there is an increased risk of the victim suffering bodily injury, or in worst cases, death. Unlawful transport generally falls under a third-degree felony but in some cases can be elevated to a second- or third-degree felony.

Unlawful transport will be considered a second-degree felony if the following is true:

  • The perpetrator acts in a way that creates a substantial likelihood of the victim suffering bodily injury or death.
  • The victim is a child under the age of 18 at the time of the offense.

Unlawful transport will be considered a first-degree offense if the following is true:

  • The victim suffered sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault.
  • The victim suffered serious injury or died.

Unlawful Restraint

Unlawful restraint occurs when an individual is restrained against their will. This will generally fall under a class A misdemeanor and can lead to up to a year of jail time and a fine of up to $4,000.

The charge can be elevated to a third-degree felony if the victim is placed at risk of suffering serious injury.

Defenses to Kidnapping Charges in the State of Texas

For an individual to be charged with kidnapping, the prosecution has to prove that there was intent or the defense was in a “frame of mind” for kidnapping. A good defense lawyer will work to prevent the prosecution from proving this so that the charge is dropped or lessened.

Other defenses against kidnapping can include but are not limited to the following:

  • The defendant had no intent to use deadly force against the victim during the kidnapping.
  • The victim was related to the defendant.
  • The defendant was exercising their legal right to control the victim, such as parental rights.
  • The victim was released to a safe place.
  • The defendant was unaware they were committing a kidnapping offense.
  • The defendant’s actions did not meet the requirements to be considered an aggravated kidnapping.

Having a strong defense on your side will help ensure that your rights are protected and your voice is heard.  Your defense attorney will fight to either significantly reduce your charges so you face a lesser crime or to obtain a “not guilty” verdict. The team at Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC will work around the clock to challenge the evidence against you, cast reasonable doubt against the prosecutor’s case, and ensure that your constitutional rights to a fair trial are protected.

Experience Is Key to a Strong Defense

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The team of criminal defense attorneys at Gebhardt and Eppes, PLLC are committed to defending the rights of individuals charged with kidnapping or other related charges in the DFW, Metroplex. We firmly believe in “innocent until proven guilty” and understand that these types of cases can result in high emotions that can threaten a defendant’s right to a fair trial. Our team fights for you and your rights, ensuring that your case is fairly heard and that you only face the consequences that meet the actions that took place during the incident. Contact us today for more information on our services or to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kidnapping

What Qualifies as Kidnapping in Texas?

Kidnapping occurs when an individual knowingly or intentionally abducts another person against their will, regardless of whether violence or weapons were used.

What Are the Four Elements of Kidnapping?

State law and federal laws protect individuals from being charged with kidnapping unless these elements can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. These elements include the following:

  1. The victim was taken unlawfully.
  2. The victim was seized, confined, carried away, or abducted.
  3. The actions taken against the victim were done without the victim’s consent.
  4. The intent behind the actions was to confide that victim, imprison them, send that victim outside of the United States/State, sell that individual as a slave, or hold that person to service against their will.

Can a Biological Parent Be Charged With Kidnapping in Texas?

Yes. If a biological parent maliciously takes a child from either the other biological parent or their legal guardian without legal consent, it is considered kidnapping. Kidnapping can also be done by other family members who take the child without the consent of their parents or legal guardian.

Parental kidnapping often occurs during custodial disputes between divorcing parents, as each parent has an equal right to that child until a family court issues an order outlining who has legal and physical custody of that child. Before removing a child from a home, always check with either your divorce attorney or a family court attorney to make sure your actions are legal.