Donald Cooley is a Springfield, Missouri based trial attorney and criminal defense lawyer with substantial experience handling felony kidnapping cases. Criminal defendants charged with kidnapping, a class A felony in Missouri, face serious penalties (up to life in prison). Missouri kidnapping charges present a number of unique, complex issues that necessitate an experienced criminal defense lawyer, including:
- Incidental Crimes: Kidnapping occurs when one “unlawfully removes another without his consent from the place where he or she is found or unlawfully confines another without his or her consent for a substantial period.” Since removing or confining is incidental to the commission of a number of other crimes (e.g. moving hostages in a robbery), the state often charges defendants with two serious felonies. However, Missouri case law expressly provides that the removing or confining must not be merely incidental to the commission of another offense. A Missouri criminal defense attorney experienced with handling and trying kidnapping cases is needed to persuade the prosecutor and court to dismiss the Kidnapping offense if charged in these circumstances.
- Substantial Movement: The offense of kidnapping in Missouri requires that one remove or confine an individual for a “substantial period” of time. Missouri case law is extremely complicated on what exactly constitutes a “substantial period,” and requires a criminal defense lawyer to perform a detailed analysis of the facts and discovery of your case to determine the sufficiency of the charge.
- Punishment Mitigation: Missouri law requires that the unlawful removal or confinement of a victim must be for one of five statutorily outlined purposes, namely for ransom, as a shield or hostage, to interfere with the performance of a government function, to facilitate the commission of a felony (but not incidentally), or to inflict personal injury or terrorize the victim. The potential punishment is dependant on what specific purpose is charged. The latter two purposes constitute a class B felony, rather than a class A, and, consequently, provide for the possibility of a plea should the facts of the case and the defendant’s wishes oblige.
- Aiding and Abetting Kidnapping: Often individuals are charged with aiding and abetting the offense of kidnapping, which is also known as accomplice liability. To be charged as an accomplice, however, one must knowingly and actively participate in the crime. Whether one’s actions constitute participation under state or federal law, requires an experienced and detailed analysis of the discovery in each case.
- Eyewitness Issues: In many kidnapping cases, as with many violent felonies, the state might attempt to prove the identity of the defendant through the use of eyewitness testimony. However, research shows, somewhat surprisingly, that eyewitness testimony is not that reliable. In fact, some research notes that their is an inverse relationship between a witness’s confidence and the reliability of his or her identification. Nonetheless, juries always overestimate the reliability of eyewitness testimony. It is, thus, extremely important that experienced criminal defense counsel is retained to aggressively cross examine an eyewitnesses to expose the unreliable nature of their identifications.
Criminal defendants charged with kidnapping in state or must retain an experienced Missouri criminal defense attorney. Donald Cooley has over 38 years of exclusive experience in criminal law and is committed to the representation of clients charged with state and federal, felony kidnapping offenses. For a free consultation and to discuss your case, contact Don today.