Respected Lebanon Kidnapping Defense Attorneys
For clients accused of custodial interference, false imprisonment, or trafficking in Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Cookeville, and throughout Tennessee
When asked, the average person usually equates kidnapping with what they see in the movies, like Liam Neeson’s “Taken.” The truth is, most kidnapping cases are nothing like that, which is why the more unique types of cases tend to get so much airtime on the news. However, just because real life does not often imitate art, it does not mean that you won’t face serious penalties if you are convicted of kidnapping charges.
Lowery, Lowery & Cherry, PLLC offers creative, thought-out defense strategies for clients facing accusations of kidnapping, false imprisonment, and custodial interference, as well as charges of human trafficking. Our Lebanon criminal defense lawyers offer honest, practical counsel and aggressive representation on behalf of our clients in Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Cookeville, and throughout Middle Tennessee. If you are facing kidnapping charges, don’t wait to get the help you need. Call us today.
What’s the difference between kidnapping and false imprisonment?
It is easy to conflate false imprisonment with kidnapping, but they are two different charges with two vastly different penalties.
- False imprisonment occurs when a person “knowingly removes or confines another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with the other's liberty.”
- Kidnapping, on the other hand, “is false imprisonment under circumstances exposing the other person to substantial risk of bodily injury” (emphasis ours). If there is no substantial risk of bodily injury, there is no kidnapping.
All acts of kidnapping are acts of false imprisonment, but not all acts of false imprisonment are acts of kidnapping. Ensuring that a jury understands this distinction can be a crucial part of a defense strategy or plea bargain, because kidnapping is a Class C felony, and false imprisonment is a Class A misdemeanor. One lands you in prison for up to 15 years and has $10,000 in fines for a conviction; the other means less than a full year in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fines.
If you are charged with aggravated kidnapping (Class B felony) or especially aggravated kidnapping (Class A felony), you could face decades in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines, if convicted. In both of these charges, the prosecution must prove that there was a deadly weapon involved (or a reasonable threat of a weapon), among other factors. You should contact an attorney immediately, even if you have not yet been charged, if you are facing accusations of these crimes.
What is custodial interference? Is it kidnapping?
Almost every charge of kidnapping that defense attorneys handle involves custodial interference – one parent (or family member) either taking the child out-of-state, or holing up with the child within the state, and refusing to give the child up. In many cases, it can be an act of petty revenge. Parent A didn’t follow the Parenting Plan, so Parent B will teach Parent A “a lesson.” This is a poor decision, often born out of anger and frustration, but it is illegal, and usually charged as a Class E felony. A felony conviction can change a person’s life irreparably.
There are times, however, when custodial interference is an act of bravery, not cowardice, on behalf of the accused parent. Under Tennessee custodial interference law, “It is a defense to custodial interference:
(1) That the person who removed the child or incompetent person reasonably believed that, at the time the child or incompetent was removed, the failure to remove the child or incompetent person would have resulted in a clear and present danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the child or incompetent person; or
(2) That the individual detained or moved in contravention of the rightful custody of a mother or of the order of custody or care, was returned by the defendant voluntarily and before arrest or the issuance of a warrant for arrest.”
If you are a parent who believed your child was in danger, or if you have evidence that your child was in danger, you may be able to have your charges dropped, even though you did not follow the proper procedure when it comes to removing your child from the house. If you are convicted, it is a Class C misdemeanor. Contact our custodial interference defense attorneys as soon as possible to find out how we can help.
Legal guidance for those accused of human trafficking
Tennessee is not immune to the scourge of human trafficking. In 2017, 85 counties in the state reported trafficking crimes, and approximately 1,100 children and adults are victims of trafficking every year. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has commissioned numerous studies on the problem, and there are countless groups throughout the state that are dedicated to helping victims. There is even a hotline: 1-855-55-TNHTH.
Human trafficking is a very, very serious offense, and one that is likely to lead to federal charges as well as state charges. This is because it is not considered double jeopardy to be charged for the same crime (albeit using slightly different language, to differentiate the charges) in two different jurisdictions. In Tennessee, human trafficking is defined as “the commission of any act that constitutes the criminal offense of:
(A) Involuntary labor servitude
(B) Trafficking persons for forced labor or services
(C) Trafficking for commercial sex act
(D) Promoting the prostitution of a minor”
The accused can be charged in criminal court and sued in civil court. Victims are allowed to seek economic damages, non-economic damages, punitive damages, injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees and restitution. The case can be brought by the victims or a family member in civil court. In criminal court, you can be charged separately, and face criminal counts for every trafficking victim. You may be sentenced either consecutively or concurrently.
You must understand the seriousness of this crime, and that the laws are structured in order to lay down the maximum penalties and punishments against you. Individuals and corporations who had any knowledge of what may have been happening can be held equally responsible.
We do not deny that human trafficking is both illegal and reprehensible, but we also know that innocent people can be caught up in the wave. For example, if you are an Uber driver who is called to an apartment building to bring a group of women from Point A to Point B, you may be found complicit in the act of trafficking. If you work in advertising and run ads for an escort service – a legal enterprise – and unknowingly end up advertising for victims of human trafficking, you may be found complicit. If you purchase the services of a prostitute who is later found to be a trafficking victim – or who later claims to be a trafficking victim – you may be charged with far more than patronizing (a Class A misdemeanor), or later find your name associated with the trafficking ring.
Being associated with human trafficking in any way can permanently mar your reputation. If you are convicted of a felony trafficking crime, you will lose more than your freedom – you can lose your job, your right to carry a firearm, your right to vote, and your access to public benefits. You can lose your home, and may be unable to get a loan for school. In short, you can lose everything. If you are not a citizen, you will almost certainly be deported, or denied asylum.
If you are facing trafficking charges, only a strong and aggressive defense will do. Lowery, Lowery & Cherry, offers comprehensive counsel for clients throughout Tennessee who are facing trafficking charges. Partner Jeff Cherry is a former Metro Police Officer, and he can anticipate how the prosecutor will build the case against you. Our Lebanon kidnapping defense lawyers have the resources to handle complex, high-profile cases like these, and the acumen and stamina to help you for the long haul. You can trust in us to protect your best interests.
Our Lebanon kidnapping defense attorneys can help
Facing charges of kidnapping or trafficking can be terrifying; choosing the lawyer who is best for your needs shouldn’t be. At Lowery, Lowery & Cherry, PLLC, you’ll find fierce Lebanon defense litigators with years of experience handling the toughest cases. We serve clients in Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Cookeville, or elsewhere in Tennessee. To set up a consultation, call 615-444-7222 or fill out our contact form.