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Kidnapping Defense Attorney in Phoenix, AZ

Kidnapping charges in Arizona are a serious matter that can result in severe consequences, including extended prison sentences. It is crucial to establish a strong defense strategy to minimize the risk of conviction and the associated penalties. Let’s delve into kidnapping laws in Arizona, potential defenses, and the penalties that come with these charges.

Understanding Arizona’s Kidnapping Laws

In simple terms, Arizona law defines kidnapping as involving restraint directed at any of the six listed factors. The intent behind kidnapping charges does not necessarily involve causing death or injury. Kidnapping is considered a standalone crime in Arizona, focusing on whether a victim was held against their will with specific intentions, such as holding them for ransom, causing harm, or other factors.

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 13-1304 outlines the essential elements of kidnapping:

  • Ransom, Shield, or Hostage: A person commits kidnapping by knowingly restraining another person with the intent to hold the victim for ransom, as a shield, or as a hostage.
  • Involuntary Servitude: Kidnapping may occur when one intends to hold the victim for involuntary servitude.
  • Inflicting Harm or Aiding a Felony: Kidnapping charges can arise if one intends to inflict death, physical injury, or a sexual offense on the victim or to aid in the commission of a felony.
  • Fear of Imminent Bodily Harm: Kidnapping charges can be pressed when a person or a third party reasonably fears imminent bodily harm due to the actions of the perpetrator. This can also include interference with lawful government functions or unlawfully taking control of public transportation.


These offenses are classified as Class 2 felonies, carrying severe penalties. For first-time dangerous crimes, this includes a minimum prison sentence of 7 years and a maximum of 21 years.

Penalties for Kidnapping

If convicted of kidnapping in Arizona, the penalties can be among the most severe. In some cases, the prosecution may refuse to negotiate and proceed directly to trial to seek an aggravated prison sentence.

The punishment for kidnapping charges can significantly vary based on the specific details of the crime, the involvement of weapons, and the defendant’s prior convictions. Here is an overview of the potential penalties:

Kidnapping without Injury:

  • First Offense: A Class 2 dangerous felony, which entails a minimum prison sentence of 7 years, a presumptive sentence of 10.5 years, and a maximum sentence of 21 years. A non-dangerous class two felony carries a sentence of 3-12.5 years in prison. 

Kidnapping with the Release of the Victim:

  • Class 3 Felony: If the victim is released without physical injury as a result of a negotiation with law enforcement, the charges may be lowered to a Class 3 felony. A class 3 non dangerous felony carries a sentence of 2-8.75 years in prison. If it is a dangerous offense, the penalty dangers from 5-15 years in prison. Kidnapping with No Release of the Victim:
  • Class 4 Felony: If the victim is released voluntarily, safely, and without injury before an arrest is made, the charges may be lowered to a Class 4 felony. This results in a sentence of up to 12.5 years in prison. If the offense is dangerous, it is anywhere from 7-21 years in prison. .

Kidnapping Involving Children under 15:

  • Class 2 Felony: If the victim is under 15 years old, additional aggravated sentencing guidelines apply under Arizona’s Dangerous Crimes Against Children laws (A.R.S. 13-705). A first-time conviction under this statute can lead to up to 24 years in state prison.

Possible Defenses for Kidnapping

Kidnapping charges can sometimes be overcharged by Arizona prosecutors, making it essential to have a skilled defense attorney to challenge these allegations. Common defenses may include:

Lack of Intent: 

Demonstrating that the defendant did not have the intent to achieve one of the statutory listed goals (e.g., slavery, ransom, a sexual offense) can be a strong defense. Mere physical restraint alone may not be enough for a kidnapping conviction.

No Restraint: 

Proving that the defendant did not physically restrain the alleged victim can be a defense. Showing that they offered the “victim” an opportunity to leave can weaken the prosecution’s case.

Not the True Kidnapper: 

If the defendant was merely present during the crime and did not act as the primary kidnapper, they may not be found guilty of kidnapping.

Miranda Rights Violation: 

Challenging the admissibility of incriminating statements based on Miranda rights violations can be a viable defense strategy.

Denial of Right to Counsel: 

If a suspect’s request for an attorney is denied while in custody, it may lead to a defense argument.

Constitutional Violations: 

Various constitutional violations, such as search warrant validity, forensic flaws, and improper police procedures, can be used to challenge the prosecution’s case.

Misleading Police Reports: 

Exposing inaccuracies, misstatements, or flawed procedures in police reports can weaken the prosecution’s evidence.

Kidnapping charges in Arizona are serious and come with significant penalties. It is crucial to have a skilled defense attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and build a strong defense tailored to your situation. Understanding the laws, potential defenses, and penalties associated with kidnapping charges is essential to navigate the legal process effectively.