Aggravated kidnapping and kidnapping are two different charges according to the Texas penal code. They have varying sentences and penalties.
However, they involve two main factors — abducting and unlawfully restraining a victim. While both are felonies, an aggravated kidnapping charge carries more severe punishment.
What Exactly is Aggravated Kidnapping?
According to Texas kidnapping statutes, aggravated kidnapping is when the defendant abducts an individual with other goals in mind considered significantly more harmful or hazardous to the kidnapped individual or other individuals.
It is a first degree felony. More specifically, a simple kidnapping charge can turn into aggravated kidnapping charge if one or more of the following is involved:
- Holding the kidnapped individual for ransom
- Holding the kidnapped individual as hostage or shield
- Trying to force the kidnapped individual to escape from or commit a felony
- Inflicting sexual abuse or bodily harm to the kidnapped individual
- Terrorizing the kidnapped individual or other people
- Attempting to interfere with political or government function
- Using a deadly weapon with the kidnapping
According to David A. Nachtigall, a reputable criminal lawyer in Houston, it’s possible to reduce a first degree felony charge to a lesser, second degree felony charge if the defendant can prove that the kidnapped individual was released voluntarily in a secure location.
Punishment for Aggravated Kidnapping in Texas
Since kidnapping is considered a third degree felony, the punishment is a maximum fine of $10,000 and two to 10 years of imprisonment. With aggravated kidnapping — a first degree felony or second degree felony — a defendant may be punished with a maximum fine of $10,000 and imprisonment of at least five years to life.
As you can see, punishment can vary greatly based on the specific circumstances of each kidnapping case. Other elements, such as the victim being a child, unlawful restraint, and transporting the victim, could potentially result in more severe charges that could lead to extra penalties and the possibility of being registered as a sexual or violent offender.