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NY Penal Law § 135.20: Kidnapping in the Second Degree

June 28, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Kidnapping is among the most serious crimes listed in the New York criminal code. It entails restraining someone and secreting them away so that the individual cannot be found. While kidnapping is customarily associated with a demand for a ransom payment, a ransom demand is not a required element to be convicted of a kidnapping offense. On top of that, it is also not a requirement that you move the victim a substantial distance away. For instance, a kidnapped victim could be kept in a location on the same block as the victim’s place of residence. If you are convicted of kidnapping, you could find yourself behind bars for decades or possibly for the rest of your life. There are two degrees of kidnapping in the New York criminal code.  They are kidnapping the first degree and kidnapping in the second degree. Under New York Penal Law § 135.20, the definition of kidnapping in the second degree is the abduction of another individual. The term “abduct” is defined as retraining that individual and holding him or her in a location where he or she is not likely to be discovered by those who would be looking for them.


An Example

Since they broke up, a man named Shawn has repeatedly begged his ex-girlfriend, Lynda to get back together with him. Lynda has repeatedly refused. Finally, Shawn convinces Lynda to meet him at a coffee shop to talk about things. Shawn picks Lynda up from her home in his car. Instead of driving her to a coffee shop as he said, Shawn drives Lynda to a cabin he owns.  The cabin is about 40 miles away from her home. He forces Lynda to go into the cabin with him. He then begs Lynda again to get back together with him and refuses to let her go until she says yes. Shawn could face prosecution for the crime of kidnapping in the second degree, because he abducted Lynda and secreted her away at his cabin.


Offenses that are Related

Kidnapping in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 135.25

Unlawful imprisonment in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 135.05

Unlawful imprisonment in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 135.10


Possible Defenses

One key defense against a charge of kidnapping is to establish consent. If you can establish that the victim agreed to go with you and also agreed to remain at that location, then you have a solid defense against a charge of kidnapping in the second degree. Under New York Penal Law § 135.20, another defense against a charge of kidnapping is that you are a relative of the individual who was abducted and the purpose of the abduction is to assume control of that person for some reason.


The Sentence

Kidnapping in the second degree is categorized as a class B felony. You could be sent to prison for as long as 25 years. This crime is also classified as a violent felony offense. What this means to you is that even if you have no prior felony convictions on your record, if you get convicted of kidnapping in the first degree you will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years behind bars.



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