Court Explains Florida’s Test for Determining Guilt in Kidnapping Cases

Kidnapping is one of the most serious crimes a person can be accused of committing, and a conviction for kidnapping often results in a lengthy jail sentence. Not all confinements during the commission of a criminal offense constitute grounds for a kidnapping conviction, though. Rather, as explained in a recent Florida opinion, the courts must conduct a three-part test to determine if the State has met its burden of proof with regard to a defendant’s guilt in a kidnapping case. If you are charged with kidnapping or any other violent offense, it is advisable to speak to a knowledgeable Sarasota violent crime defense lawyer regarding what evidence the State must produce to establish your guilt.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and two other individuals entered an auto parts store shortly before it closed. One of the men placed a gun to the store manager’s head and demanded that he and two other employees and two customers get on the ground, which they did. The man then grabbed the manager and forced him to open the safe in the back of the store. The defendant and the other man stayed with the employees and customers in the store. One of the gunmen struck an employee who refused to abide by his command and dragged him to the middle of the store. The men then made the other employee and the customers crawl to a back room where they were robbed.

Allegedly, the State charged the defendant with four counts of kidnapping in the facilitation of a felony. He was convicted, after which he appealed. On appeal, the court upheld three of his convictions but reversed one on the grounds the evidence produced by the State was insufficient to sustain the conviction under the three-part test for kidnapping during the commission of a felony as established under Florida law.

Florida’s Three-Part Test for Determining Guilt in Kidnapping Cases

The Florida Supreme Court adopted a three-part test to determine when confinement during the commission of a felony offense is adequate to support a separate charge for kidnapping. Under the test, to support the charge of a felony facilitating kidnapping, a confinement must not be inconsequential, slight, or merely incidental to the other offense. Further, it cannot be a confinement that is inherent in the nature of the other crime and must have some significance irrespective of the other crime. In the subject case, the court found that the State failed to meet its burden of proof under the test with regard to the individual who was dragged into the other room. Thus, it reversed the defendant’s conviction for one of the counts.

Confer with an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

The State faces a significant burden of proof in kidnapping cases, and if it fails to produce evidence sufficient to establish a defendant’s guilt, the State should not be able to obtain a conviction. If you are charged with kidnapping or another violent crime, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney regarding your potential defenses. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a dedicated Sarasota criminal defense lawyer who is adept at helping criminal defendants fight to protect their rights, and if you hire him, he will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Hanlon through the online form or at 941-462-1789 to set up a meeting.

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