If you or a family member has been accused of a crime like kidnapping, stalking, or coercion, you are likely overwhelmed. These crimes often involve family members, causing tension among loved ones and confusion about what actually happened. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC our Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers know there are two sides to every story. We will make sure your side is heard.
Working with an experienced Pittsburgh kidnapping and family crimes attorney can help you avoid some of the harshest consequences of these crimes. You may be facing years in prison and expensive fines. However, the damaging effects won’t stop there. You may be subject to a restraining order and losing custody or visitation of your children. You may even face repercussions at work or school.
Contact our Pittsburgh kidnapping and family crimes attorneys today to find out how we can help you. Call us at (412) 281-2146.
Types of Crimes We Handle
Although kidnapping and related crimes can involve strangers, they are often charges associated with allegations made by family members. Crimes that we handle include:
- Kidnapping – Unlawfully taking a person (child or adult) from one place to another against their will is considered kidnapping, and you may be charged with a first-degree felony.
- Unlawful Restraint – Restraining another in circumstances that expose them to risk of serious bodily injury or holding another in a condition of involuntary servitude constitutes unlawful restraint, a first-degree misdemeanor. If a parent does so to a child, a second-degree felony may be charged.
- Stalking – Repeatedly following or communicating with a person to cause substantial emotional distress can result in stalking charges, which is typically a first-degree misdemeanor. Second or subsequent offenses may be considered third-degree felonies.
- Coercion – Criminal coercion occurs when a person unlawfully restricts the freedom of another by threatening to commit a criminal offense, accuse someone of a criminal offense, expose a secret, or take or withhold action of an official. This is a second-degree misdemeanor.
- Luring a Child into a Motor Vehicle or Structure – Unless a child needs assistance, you may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor or second-degree felony for luring a child into a motor vehicle or structure without the permission of the child’s parents or guardian.
- Interfering with Custody – Knowingly or recklessly enticing any child from the custody of their parents or guardians may result in a third-degree felony.
- Child Endangerment – Any parent, guardian, or person supervising the welfare of a child who violates a duty of care, protection, or support may be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony. If the actions created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury, the offense may be a second-degree felony.
- Violation of Protection from Abuse Order – Any person who violates the specific details of a protection from abuse (PFA) order may be charged with a criminal offense and face a third-degree misdemeanor or worse. PFAs can arise from civil matters; however, the consequences of the violation are criminal.
Penalties and Consequences in Pennsylvania
When facing a criminal charge for kidnapping or another family-related crime, you may face a misdemeanor or felony charge. Penalties may include:
- Third-degree misdemeanor – one year of incarceration and up to $2,000 in fines
- Second-degree misdemeanor – two years of incarceration and up to $5,000 in fines
- First-degree misdemeanor – five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
- Third-degree felony – seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines
- Second-degree felony – 10 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines
- First-degree felony – 20 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines
If you are convicted of a felony, it can impact your career and education as well. Many employers refuse to hire felons, and it can be difficult to obtain financial aid with a felony on your record. You may also have difficulty finding affordable housing in the future. Gun ownership and immigration may also be negatively impacted by criminal status. Allegations of a family crime may strain family relationships and cause problems in civil court cases involving divorce, child custody, and child visitation.
Defending Against Kidnapping and Family Crimes
Developing a strategic defense against kidnapping and family-related criminal charges can be complicated. Evidence in cases that involve few witnesses and different stories can be difficult to present. Your experienced Pittsburgh kidnapping and family crimes lawyer can help you gather information and present it in a way that benefits your side of the case.
Accusations of family crimes often arise from complex situations. A spouse may seek revenge and accuse their former partner of interfering with the custody of children or stalking. Criminal charges may be sought to gain leverage in a divorce or child custody hearing.
The unique circumstances require a dedicated evaluation of the situation so that you can have the best defense possible. Although public defenders are helpful, they often do not have enough time to spend on each case. Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC will give you time and resources that will obtain the best outcome possible.