Kidnapping Lawyer

Fort Worth (TX) Attorneys – Kidnapping & Unlawful Restraint

Degrees of KidnappingKidnapping

The Texas Penal Code, Ch. 20 defines the differences between kidnapping, aggravated kidnapping, and unlawful restraint as follows:

  • Kidnapping occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly abducts another person.
  • Aggravated kidnapping occurs when one person abducts another using a deadly weapon, or with the intent to:
      • hold him for ransom;
      • use him as a shield or hostage;
      • facilitate the commission of a felony or flight;
      • inflict bodily injury or sexual abuse;
      • terrorize him or a third person;
      • interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.
  • Unlawful restraint occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly restrains another person against their will by confining them or moving them from one place to another.

Penalties for a Kidnapping Conviction

Class A MisdemeanorUnlawful restraint.Up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000
State Jail FelonyUnlawful restraint of a minor.180 days to 2 years in state jail
Third Degree FelonyUnlawful restraint a) with reckless exposure to risk of bodily injury; or b) of a public servant; or c) performed by someone in custody.2 to 10 years in prison, and an optional fine of up to $10,000
Third Degree FelonyKidnapping.2 to 10 years in prison, and an optional fine of up to $10,000
Second Degree FelonyAggravated kidnapping IF the defendant voluntarily released the victim in a safe place.2 to 20 years in prison, and an optional fine of up to $10,000
First Degree FelonyAggravated kidnapping.5 years to life in prison, and an optional fine of up to $10,000

Conviction for a kidnapping offense could result in a permanent criminal record, the loss of your job and professional licenses, inability to carry or own a weapon, and a lengthy trip to prison.

These crimes are very serious and are treated very harshly by judges and juries, so you need an experienced kidnapping attorney as soon as you are under investigation or charged with this offense.

Defenses to Kidnapping Charges

Being charged with one of these offenses is not a reason to give up hope. You may have valid reasons for what you did, and there are defenses that can be utilized to prevent a conviction. If you are charged with kidnapping in a child custody situation involving a dispute with an ex-spouse, Penal Code Sec. 20.03 (b) provides an affirmative defense as follows:

  • you did not have the intent to use force or threaten force;
  • the child abducted was a relative; and
  • your only intent was to assume lawful custody of the child

Some people accused of kidnapping simply do not understand the child custody statutes and have no real criminal intent. While ignorance of the law is not a legal defense, a lack of criminal intent can sometimes be persuasive, depending on the nature of the facts in your case. It can be the difference between a conviction and a dismissal.

Other defenses include use of appropriate force as a guardian for reasonable discipline, insufficient evidence, necessity, and duress.

Even if the above defenses do not apply to your case, you may qualify for a special form of probation called “deferred adjudication” that results in your case being dismissed after you complete your probation. This is not a conviction. In this situation, you are given an opportunity to prove that you deserve a second chance.


Being charged with kidnapping does not mean that you are guilty. If you are charged with one of these crimes, you need an experienced kidnapping attorney to investigate the case thoroughly, counter the evidence against you, and mount an aggressive defense to the charges.

If you have been accused of one of these crimes, protect your rights and establish your defense by calling Justin Sparks at 817-334-0300 for a free consultation.


Contact Justin Sparks

Fort Worth Criminal Defense Attorney

Justin Sparks Criminal Defense Attorney