Defendant’s Actions Evidenced Specific Intent Required for Kidnapping Charge

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

In an opinion issued earlier this year, the Appellate Court of Connecticut found the State met its burden of establishing that a kidnapping victim’s liberty was intentionally prevented by the defendant’s conduct.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on November 4, 2007. The defendant twice entered the victim’s residence in search of his girlfriend. On the second entry, he forced his way in, placed a handgun to the victim’s stomach, and threatened to kill her. The victim insisted the girlfriend was not present, but the defendant demanded she sit on the couch as he unsuccessfully searched the apartment for the girlfriend. Police subsequently located the defendant and placed him under arrest.

The defendant faced numerous charges, including kidnapping in the second degree with a firearm in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-94a(a). He was convicted on all counts and received a lengthy sentence. On appeal, he argued in part that the State did not meet their burden of establishing, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he possessed the intent to deprive the victim of her freedom and liberty.

To be convicted of second-degree kidnapping with a firearm, the defendant must first abduct another person, or intend to prevent that person’s liberation. This is accomplished either through the use or threatened use of physical force or intimidation, or holding the person at a place where he is not likely to be found. Once the abduction occurs, the perpetrator “uses or is armed with and threatens the use or uses or displays or represents by his words or conduct that he possesses a pistol, revolver, machine gun, shotgun, rifle or firearm.”

Intent is often proven through circumstantial evidence: unless you are a mind reader, knowing what a person is thinking or intending at any point in time is nearly impossible. Thus, “intent may be inferred from the events leading up to, and immediately following, the conduct in question… the accused’s physical acts and the general surrounding circumstances.” The words used by a defendant may also serve as direct evidence of intent.

In this case, at the time the defendant ordered the victim to sit on the couch, there remained an “implicit threat” stemming from the previous threat against the victim’s life. Therefore, the Appellate Court concluded that the jury could reasonably “infer from the defendant’s conduct that he possessed the requisite specific intent to prevent the victim’s liberation.”

When faced with a charge of kidnapping or unlawful restraint, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.