KIDNAPPING, UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT, AND SMUGGLING OF PERSONS

TEXAS PENAL CODE
TITLE 5. OFFENSES AGAINST THE PERSON
CHAPTER 20. KIDNAPPING, UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT, AND SMUGGLING OF PERSONS

The following is a brief explanation of Chapter 20 of the Texas Penal Code regarding Kidnapping, Unlawful Restraint, and Smuggling of Persons. This is not to be construed as legal advice for any particular case. See also the full text of the Chapter 20. Kidnapping.

What is Unlawful Restraint?

The crime of Unlawful Restraint is governed by Chapter 20 of the Texas Penal Code. Under Section 20.02, UNLAWFUL RESTRAINT in Texas is defined as:

  • Intentionally taking away a person’s liberty by confining that person or moving that person from place to place without their consent. Using force, intimidation, or deception to restrain the person means the person did not consent, making the restraint unlawful; or
  • Confinement or movement of a child under the age of 14 years or people 14 years and older with limited mental functioning if the person or organization responsible for the child or mentally limited person does not agree to the confinement or movement*; or
  • Confinement or movement of a child age 14 years or older but under the age of 17 if the victim is taken outside of the state and outside a 120-mile radius from the victim ’s home and the person or organization responsible for the child does not agree to the movement.*

*A relative such as a parent, stepparent, ancestor, sibling, or uncle or aunt can restrain a child under the age of 14 if the person’s reason for restraining the child is to control the child’s behavior or actions in a way that is lawful, for example reasonable disciplinary measures.

**A lawful arrest of a suspect is not considered unlawful restraint.

Unlawful restraint can be Class A misdemeanor, State Jail Felony, or Third-Degree Felony depending on the nature of the offense.

Class A Misdemeanor: 0-365 Days in County Jail, and up to a $4,000 fine.
State Jail Felony: 180 days – 2 years in a State Jail Facility, and up to a $10,000 fine.
Third-Degree Felony: 2-10 years in Prison, and up to a $10,000 fine.

What is Kidnapping?

The crime of Kidnapping is governed by Chapter 20 of the Texas Penal Code. Under Section 20.03, Kidnapping in Texas is defined as follows:

  • Intentionally taking away a person’s liberty by hiding or holding the person where they are not likely to be found or by using or threatening to use deadly force to hold the person.*

*A relative such as a parent, stepparent, ancestor, sibling, or uncle or aunt can hold another person if the relative’s reason for holding the person is to control that person’s behavior or actions in a way that is lawful and the relative has no intent to use or to threaten to use deadly force in the process.

Kidnapping in Texas is a Third-Degree Felony.  The range of punishment is 2-10 years in Prison, and up to a $10,000 fine.

What is Aggravated Kidnapping?

The crime of Kidnapping is governed by Chapter 20 of the Texas Penal Code. Under Section 20.03, Kidnapping in Texas is defined as follows:

  • Intentionally taking away a person’s liberty by hiding or holding the person. It is aggravated kidnapping to hide or hold a person for the following reasons:
    • for ransom,
    • as a hostage or a shield,
    • to commit a felony or to escape the felony crime scene,
    • to hurt or sexually abuse the victim,
    • to strike fear into the victim or another person, or
    • to interfere with any government or political function.
  • Using or showing a deadly weapon to intentionally taking away a person’s liberty by hiding or holding the person.

Aggravated Kidnapping is a First-Degree Felony.* The range of punishment is 5-99 years (or Life) in Prison, and up to a $10,000 fine.

*Aggravated Kidnapping is a Second-Degree Felony if the defendant ultimately released the victim in a safe place.

What is Smuggling of Persons?

The crime of Smuggling of Persons is governed by Chapter 20 of the Texas Penal Code. Under Section 20.05, Smuggling of Persons is defined as follows:

  • Using a motor vehicle, aircraft, or watercraft to flee or hide oneself or to hide another person from law enforcement and law enforcement activities.

Smuggling of persons is typically a State Jail Felony.  However, it is a Third-Degree Felony if the person smuggled another in exchange for monetary benefit or in a way that would cause the smuggled person harm or death.

FORT WORTH

Primary Location
209 W. 8th St
Fort Worth, TX 76102
817.993.9249

KELLER

*By Appointment Only
204 S. Main St #195
Keller, Texas 76248
817.482.6770

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