Washington’s most famous kidnapping took place prior to World War II, when the nine-year-old son of wealthy lumberman J.P. Weyerhaeuser was abducted and later released unharmed. Dramatic cases like this capture headlines and become part of legend, but less-known incidents take place throughout Washington to this day.
If you have been accused of or charged with kidnapping, you need legal representation right away. You can trust the experienced defense lawyers at Twyford Law Office to stand up for you and fight to protect your rights.
We offer free consultations – call (509) 327-0777 to discuss your case with our Spokane kidnapping attorneys.
Types of Kidnapping
Abduction crimes in Washington State are classified into different categories, the main ones being kidnapping and custodial interference. There are two degrees of kidnapping in Washington State.
First-degree kidnapping constitutes abducting a person intentionally to:
Hold them for ransom
Facilitate a felony crime
Inflict mental distress on them or another party
Interfere with any government function
Second-degree kidnapping covers all the other instances of intentional abduction, with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is if “the actor is a relative of the person abducted.” In these cases of family abductions, custodial interference laws are instead applied.
Family abductions of minors are far more common than stranger abductions. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children helped law enforcement with 25,000 cases of missing children in 2018. 4% were family abductions and less than 1% were non-family abductions.
Like with kidnapping, there are two degrees of custodial interference. First-degree interference is established when it is determined the abduction is planned to be permanent or long-term, puts the child at risk of physical harm, or crosses state lines.
Second-degree interference addresses cases when one person prevents another from their lawful right to physical custody. Custodial interference can be committed by a parent or another relative of the abducted child.
Penalties of Kidnapping
Washington law distinguishes between these kidnapping and custodial interference and also applies different penalties.
First-degree kidnapping is a Class A felony, with the possibility of life in prison. Second-degree kidnapping is a Class B felony unless there is a “finding of sexual motivation,” which then results in a Class A felony.
First-degree custodial interference is a Class C felony; second-degree interference is a misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class C felony for second or subsequent offenses.
Those who commit first- or second-degree kidnapping or unlawful imprisonment where the victim is a minor and the offender is not the minor’s parent must go on the Washington State Sex Offender Registry.
Kidnapping vs. Trafficking
Kidnapping is also distinguished from human trafficking. Victims of trafficking are not necessarily abducted against their will, but instead are coerced into the situation, traded or sold as a commodity, and then forced into prostitution or labor.
Washington is considered ripe for human trafficking, according to the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, because of its proximity to Canada, its numerous ports, and its need for agricultural workers. In 2016, Washington had 168 cases of human trafficking reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, eleventh most among the states.
Both first-degree and second-degree trafficking are Class A felonies in Washington.
Contact an Experienced Spokane Kidnapping Attorney
An experienced and dedicated attorney who provides an aggressive defense can make all the difference in the outcome of a case. Twyford Law Office understands the difficult situation you are up against. We are prepared to fight on your behalf.
If you need experienced legal help to protect your interests, contact our kidnapping defense lawyers online or call (509) 327-0777 to schedule a phone consultation.