Kidnapping Charges in Fort Worth

What Constitutes Kidnapping in Texas?

According to Texas Penal Code Section 20.03, a person may be charged with kidnapping if he or she intentionally or knowingly abducted another person.

Under Texas law, abduct means to restrain a person through the threat or use of deadly force or by secreting or holding them in a place in which they are not likely to be found by others searching for them. In order to kidnap someone intentionally and knowingly, a defendant must have consciously chosen to abduct an individual of their own free will and be aware of the results of their conduct. There is no time requirement associated with kidnapping charges in Fort Worth. Even if a defendant allegedly held someone against their will for only a few hours or a day, they could still be charged with this offense.

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Generally, all the aforementioned elements — abduction, intent, and awareness of results of their conduct —must be present in your case for you to be convicted of kidnapping. Additionally, state law specifies that you cannot be convicted of kidnapping if you took lawful control over a family member or relative without any intentional use or threat of deadly force.

Kidnapping is a third-degree felony in Texas, carrying a punishment range of 2-10 years in prison. If you have been charged with kidnapping, be sure to contact an experienced local defense attorney at our firm.

What does it mean to “abduct” under Texas law?

Abduct means to “restrain” a person with intent to prevent his liberation by holding him where he is not likely to be found or by using deadly force.

What does it mean to restrain a person under Texas law?

In Texas, “restrain” means to restrict a person’s movements without consent so as to interfere substantially with the person’s liberty by moving the person from one place to another, or by confining the person. See Penal Code Section 20.01(1) and Penal Code Section 20.03.

This definition is a little counterintuitive because it seems to cover a lot more than just restraint. For example, if a defendant places this woman in the trunk of his car without her consent, and then either keeps her there, or drives off with her, the defendant has restrained her according to the penal code definition. Restraint without consent is accomplished by force, intimidation, or deception. Restraint without consent is also accomplished by any means, including acquiescence or agreement of the victim if it is a child, 14 or younger, or an incompetent person and the parent or guardian has not agreed to the movement or confinement. Restraint without consent is also accomplished by any means including acquiescence. Notice that you don’t have to physically move someone from one place to another in order to abduct them. You merely need to hold them in a place where they’re not likely to be found.

Felony Kidnapping in Texas | Penal Code 20.03

How State Law Defines Aggravated Kidnapping?

In some instances, kidnapping may be elevated to aggravated kidnapping. As defined by Texas Penal Code Section 20.04, kidnapping may be considered aggravated if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • The defendant used or possessed a deadly weapon while committing an act of kidnapping
  • The victim was held for ransom or reward
  • The victim was used as a hostage or a shield
  • An act of kidnapping facilitated the commission of another separate felony offense
  • The defendant inflicted bodily injury or sexually abuse the victim
  • The defendant terrorize the victim or a third person
  • The defendant committed the offense to interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function

Kidnapping vs. Aggravated Kidnapping


Aspect Kidnapping Aggravated Kidnapping
Definition Knowingly or intentionally abducting another person. Abducting another person with the intent to hold them for ransom, use them as a shield or hostage, facilitate a felony or flee after committing a felony, inflict bodily injury or violate or abuse sexually, terrorize them or a third person, or interfere with a governmental or political function. Kidnapping can also be aggravated by the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon
Intent The intent is generally to move or confine the victim without lawful authority. In addition to unlawful confinement or movement, there must be a more severe or harmful intention behind the act.
Penalties Generally a third-degree felony. Raised to a first-degree felony due to the aggravating factors.

What is the punishment for kidnapping?

Kidnapping is a third-degree felony, punishable to two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,0000 fine. Aggravated kidnapping is a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.

Are there any affirmative defenses to kidnapping?

There are affirmative defenses to kidnapping – that is, evidence that can defeat the charge. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution if:

  • the abduction was not coupled with intent to use or to threaten to use deadly force;
  • the actor was a relative of the person abducted; and
  • the actor’s sole intent was to assume lawful control of the victim.

There are also a number of other defenses we can employ to fight your case.

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Work with a Fort Worth Attorney to Contest Kidnapping Charges

Regardless of the circumstances under which you were arrested and charged with kidnapping, it is crucial to seek experienced legal guidance. If you are unable to disprove the prosecution’s argument that you committed a criminal act of kidnapping, you could end up with a permanent felony record and potentially spend years in prison. We can help. Our team of knowledgeable lawyers can walk you through your legal options and work on your behalf to mitigate your risk of criminal conviction.

Our legal team at Varghese Summersett has the knowledge and experience to help you fight kidnapping charges in Fort Worth. To find out how our firm can help with your case, call today for a free consultation.

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