Houman Fakhimi

Orange County Kidnapping Conviction Nets 21-Year Prison Term

A Placentia man has been handed a 21-year prison sentence after authorities say he helped orchestrate a kidnapping in Orange County.

Orange County criminal defense attorneys know how serious kidnapping charges are. This rarely means the classic holding someone for ransom. In most cases, it can mean simply holding a spouse or someone against their will, no matter how temporarily. In some cases it can be not permitting someone to leave a room or use the phone.

Not so in this case, as reported by The Los Angeles Times:

The alleged crime happened in 2002, when a homeowner was blindfolded, bound and gagged for two weeks. He was moved from hotel to hotel by a total of six men, who prosecutors said demanded ransom from the victim's girlfriend.

The alleged co-conspirators had reportedly encountered the man while doing remodeling work at the man's home.

After kidnapping him, prosecutors say they demanded a $10,000 ransom. The girlfriend, who had been searching for the missing man for weeks, contacted police. When she met with the suspects to hand over the money, the suspects were arrested.

The alleged victim was located in a hotel room, and taken to a local hospital where he was treated for minor injuries - including wounds to his torso, arms, feet, hands and shoulder - as well as dehydration.

Throughout the two-week ordeal, the man was reportedly fed only a handful of times and allowed him to shower twice. It's also alleged that the suspects shot rubber pellets at him in order to embarrass him.

The alleged victim has since left the country and broken off his engagement, as prosecutors said the incident left him emotionally scarred.

The 50-year-old defendant was convicted on 10 felonies, including commercial burglary, robbery, kidnapping, fraudulent use of a credit card, growing and possessing marijuana for the purpose of sale and committing a crime while out on bail for a previous crime. His co-defendants had previously been sentenced to between 5 and 11 years.

The facts of this kidnapping case appear to be somewhat cut-and-dry. There was premeditation to hold someone against their will and that plan was allegedly carried out.

However, oftentimes, kidnapping cases aren't so simple. There may be no forethought given to the sequence of events. Our Orange County criminal defense attorneys understand that there have even been cases in which misunderstandings arising in the heat of an argument have given way to kidnapping charges.

California Penal Code 207, 208, 209 and 209.5 outline the state's kidnapping laws. Essentially, the state attorney's office must prove that you moved someone without their consent by using either force or fear. The use of force or fear is defined as either actually physically forcing someone to move or threatening to hurt them if they do not do as you say.

The charges are considered to be aggravated if the victim is under the age of 14, if there is a demand for ransom, if you seriously hurt or kill the victim or if the crime occurs while you are trying to steal a car.

If you are convicted on one of these charges, you could face between five years to life behind bars. In some cases, you'll have to serve 85 percent of that sentence before you could be released.

Given the severity of the penalties, if this is a crime you are ever accused of, you need to immediately contact an experienced Orange County defense attorney, who can help walk you through your best options.

Sometimes, your actions are considered defensible under the following circumstances:

  1. You were there, but did not actively participate in the alleged incident;
  2. You weren't there at all, and this is an issue of mistaken identity;
  3. The alleged victim had actually agreed to be moved;
  4. The evidence doesn't show you substantially moved the alleged victim;
  5. There simply isn't enough evidence to prove the case.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are charged with a crime. Protecting your rights and setting up an aggressive defense at the beginning stages is critical in defending against criminal charges.