ARS § 13-1304 is the Arizona statute that defines the crime of kidnapping. You commit this offense if you knowingly restrain another person and do with some specific intent in mind (for example, an intent to hold the “victim” for ransom or as a hostage). A violation of this law is a felony offense punishable by up to decades in state prison.
The language of ARS § 13-1304 states that:
A person commits kidnapping by knowingly restraining another person with the intent to:
- Hold the victim for ransom, as a shield or hostage; or
- Hold the victim for involuntary servitude; or
- Inflict death, physical injury, or a sexual offense on the victim, or to otherwise aid in the commission of a felony; or
- Place the victim or a third person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury to the victim or the third person; or
- Interfere with the performance of a governmental or political function; or
- Seize or exercise control over any airplane, train, bus, ship or other vehicle.
- Keeping someone in a remote cabin and asking for a large amount of money for the person’s release.
- Holding someone against their will on a farm to perform manual labor.
- Restraining a member of the Arizona Senate in the State Capitol to interfere with a specific vote.
Criminal defense lawyers draw upon several legal strategies to help defendants challenge kidnapping charges. Some of these include showing that the defendant:
- did not act with a prohibited intent,
- did not restrain the “victim,” and/or
- was merely present during the crime and was not the actual kidnapper.
A violation of ARS 13-1304 is a felony. Depending on the facts of the case, an Arizona kidnapping crime can be charged as a:
A Class 2 felony is the most severe charge and could lead to a prison sentence of 10-20 years.
In this article, our criminal defense attorneys will discuss what the law is under this statute, defenses available if charged, the penalties for a conviction, and related crimes.
1. How does Arizona law define “kidnapping”?
People are guilty of kidnapping under Arizona law if they knowingly restrain another person and act with the intent to:
- hold the victim for ransom, as a shield, or as a hostage,
- hold the victim for involuntary servitude,
- inflict death, physical injury, or a sexual offense on the victim, or to otherwise aid in the commission of a felony,
- place the victim or a third person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury,
- interfere with the performance of a governmental or political function, or
- seize or exercise control over any airplane, train, bus, ship, or other vehicle.i
While kidnapping contains the term “kid,” the crime is not limited to restraining children or persons under 18. A kidnapping “victim” can be any years of age.
Note that this offense gained some recent attention in Arizona with the case of Brandon Soules, an Arizona man who attempted his own kidnapping in 2021.ii
2. Are there defense to ARS 13-1304 charges?
People accused of kidnapping have the right to challenge an accusation with a legal defense. Three common defenses include defendants showing that:
- they did not act with a prohibited intent.
- they did not restrain a “victim.”
- they were merely present during the crime and did not act as the kidnapper.
2.1 No prohibited intent
People are only guilty of kidnapping if they act with some intent specifically listed within the statute’s language (for example, to hold the “victim” for involuntary servitude). This means it is always a defense for a defendant to show that he/she did not act with wrongful intent.
2.2 No restraint
Recall that a person is only guilty of this offense if they restrained another person. A defense is for defendants to show that they never restricted or constrained the alleged victim. Maybe, for example, they offered the “victim” an opportunity to leave.
2.3 Not the true kidnapper
People are not guilty of kidnapping if they were merely present while another person committed a kidnapping. Consider, for example, a case where a person drives a friend to a convenience store, and unbeknownst to him, the friend robs the store and returns to the car with the store’s clerk. Here, the driver is not guilty of a crime. He did not personally restrain the clerk and was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
3. What are the penalties?
Most kidnapping offenses are Class 2 felonies punishable by a term in state prison of 10 to 20 years.iii
The crime is a Class 4 felony if the defendant voluntarily released the “victim” without physical injury and in a safe place before an arrest.iv A Class 4 felony is punishable by custody in prison for up to three years.
Note that if the victim is released per an agreement with the state and without physical injury, the crime is charged as a Class 3 felony.v A Class 3 felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Note, too, that if a person kidnaps someone under 15 years of age, he/she will be charged with a Class 2 felony and the offense is punishable per ARS 13-705, Arizona’s statute on dangerous crimes against children (“DCAC”).vi
A first-time conviction under ARS 13-705 is punishable by up to 24 years in state prison.vii
4. Are there related offenses?
There are three crimes related to kidnapping. These are:
- unlawful imprisonment – ARS 13-1303,
- custodial interference – ARS 13-1302, and
- aggravated assault – ARS 13-1204.
4.1 Unlawful imprisonment – ARS 13-1303
Per ARS 13-1303, unlawful imprisonment is when a person knowingly restrains another person.
The focus here is on the actual restraint. Unlike with kidnapping, a person does not have to act with any specific intent after the restraint takes place.
4.2 Custodial interference – ARS 13-1302
Custodial interference, per ARS 13-1302, is the offense where people:
- commit some prohibited act concerning a child, and
- do so without legal authority.
Some prohibited acts under this statute include:
- taking a child from another’s lawful custody, and
- denying a parent access to their child.
If a person commits this crime with interference that also constitutes an unlawful restraint, then the person could be charged with both:
- custodial interference, and
4.3 Aggravated assault – ARS 13-1204
Per ARS 13-1204, aggravated assault is the crime where a person:
- assaults another person, and
- does so using certain aggravating factors (such as assaulting someone with a deadly weapon).
As with kidnapping, aggravated assault is a felony offense in Arizona.
- ARS 13-1304A. See also State v. Dunbar, 465 P.3d 527 (2020); and, State v. Dutra, 245 Ariz. 180 (2018).
- According to the New York Times, Soules attempted his own kidnapping in February of 2021 in order to get out of his job at the tire factory. Police say that Mr. Soules told officers that after completing an errand, he returned to his home, where two masked men abducted him near his vehicle, struck him in the back of his head and knocked him unconscious. Soules later said that he made up the story. The Coolidge Police Department charged the man with the crime of false reporting to law enforcement.
- ARS 13-1304B.
- See same.
- See same.
- See same.
- ARS 13-705D.