In any criminal case, the State must prove each element of the charged offense in order to obtain a guilty verdict. Thus, if the State cannot demonstrate an element of a crime, the defendant should not be convicted, and any conviction based on inadequate facts should be overturned. In a recent case, a New Jersey appellate court discussed what the State must establish to prove guilt for a kidnapping offense, specifically discussing the element of a substantial period of confinement. If you are charged with kidnapping or any other felony, it is advisable to consult a knowledgeable New Jersey criminal defense attorney to assess what evidence the State may produce against you.
Factual History of the Case
It is reported that the defendant held a knife to a woman’s neck and forced her to perform sex acts for several hours, despite her protests. She was ultimately rescued by a passerby. The defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including first-degree kidnapping. He was convicted as charged, after which he appealed, arguing that the State had failed to prove the substantial period of confinement requirement of the kidnapping offense. His appeal was granted, after which the State appealed. On appeal, the appellate court reinstated the defendant’s conviction.
The Substantial Period of Confinement Element of Kidnapping Crimes
Under the relevant statute, a person that moves a party a substantial distance or unlawfully confines someone else for a substantial period will be found guilty of kidnapping if the act is undertaken for the purpose of committing a crime or inflicting bodily harm. Further, unless a defendant releases his or her victim unharmed and in a safe environment, kidnapping is a first-degree crime. The statute does not define the terms substantial distance or significant period, however.