Kidnapping, Abduction, Unlawful Restraint, Child Enticement and Human Trafficking

Kidnapping (O.R.C. 2905.01)

(A) Purposely (B) removing another or restraining their liberty with (C) force, threat, or deception (D)(1) to use them as a shield or hostage; (2) to help commit a felony or escape from one; (3) physically harm or terrorize the victim; (4) for sex; or (5) for involuntary servitude.

Abduction (O.R.C. 2905.02)

(A) Knowingly (B) removing another through threat or force, (C) restraining another through threat or force under circumstances that makes the victim afraid or risks physical harm to them, or (D) holding them in involuntary servitude.

Unlawful Restraint (O.R.C. 2905.03)

(A1) Knowingly (B) restraining another’s liberty without privilege.

Human trafficking (O.R.C. 2905.32)

(A) Knowingly (B) recruiting, luring, enticing, harboring, isolating, transporting, providing, maintaining, or attempting to do any of these things (C) someone for (1) sexual or (2) involuntary labor exploitation.

Main affirmative defense: Release victim to safe place unharmed

What Qualifies as Kidnapping in Ohio?

As I’m sure you can imagine, Ohio law treats kidnapping extraordinarily seriously. Technically, there are a number of offenses that might qualify as “kidnapping” to the average person, but Ohio law uses the names of these offenses to refer to specific behaviors. Let’s start with kidnapping. Under ORC § 2905.01, you cannot use force, threat or deception to remove someone or restrain someone’s liberty for a few specific purposes. Notably, kidnapping doesn’t just mean taking someone away, but it can also arise if you force someone to stay where they are. But you need to do this for one of these purposes: 1) using them “for ransom or as a shield or hostage”, 2) to help commit a felony or escape after committing one, 3) seriously harming the victim physically or terrorizing them, 4) for sex (as defined by ORC § 2907.01), or 5) “involuntary servitude,” like a slave does work against their will. But that’s not all that the kidnapping statute covers. It also covers a lesser mind set—“knowingly” removing someone or restraining their liberty using force, threat or deception under circumstances that could seriously harm them physically. But you still need to know that what you’re doing carries a risk of serious physical harm to the victim, even if you’re not doing it with a certain purpose.kidnapping

There is an important defense in kidnapping that will reduce how bad the punishment will be. If the kidnapper can prove that he released the victim to a safe place unharmed, then it’s only a second degree felony, which carries a lighter sentence. But like most offenses, if the victim is a child under thirteen and the offender was motivated by their own sexual gratification to kidnap the victim, it can range from fifteen years to life in prison.

How Does Abduction Differ From Kidnapping?

Abduction, under ORC § 2905.02, is a lesser offense that features similar language as kidnapping. You need to take someone from where they are or restrain them under circumstances that creates a risk of harm to the victim, using threat or force. Unlike kidnapping, deception is not an issue for abduction. Also, the state can charge you with abducting someone if you hold them in involuntary servitude. It also requires that you know that you are restraining someone’s liberty or taking them from where they are located.

And there’s also “unlawful restraint,” which ORC § 2905.03 prohibits knowingly restraining someone’s liberty. This can be increased depending on if the restrainer had a “sexual motivation.” Whether someone’s liberty is restrained means that the restrainer deprived the victim of her liberty, she is compelled to stay somewhere that she does not want to stay, or go somewhere she does not want to go to.

What Does it Mean to Solicit a Child in Ohio?

Originally, ORC § 2905.05 criminalized “criminal child enticement,” which was knowingly soliciting, coaxing, or luring a child under fourteen years old to come with the offender, including in a car or other vessel, if the child didn’t have parent or guardian permission or the offender wasn’t a law enforcement officer, emergency personnel, or school member. You’re probably thinking, “well doesn’t that cover a lot of seemingly innocent behavior?” If you thought that, then you’re absolutely right. The Ohio Supreme Court struck that part of the statute down in State v. Romage because it was unconstitutional, where prosecutors tried to charge a man with it when he merely offered a child money to help him carry boxes into his apartment from his car. While we won’t dive into the depths of constitutional law, the Court found that the statute was unconstitutionally “overbroad,” meaning it covered a lot of perfectly innocent behavior. For example, a senior citizen offering to give a twelve-year-old child and his eleven-year-old brother money to clean out the woman’s attic could fall under the statute. These absurd conclusions caused the Court to strike it down.

The Ohio legislature scrambled to try to save the law in 2017, but it still hasn’t changed. In 2019, prosecutors in Cuyahoga County tried to convict a man of the statute and failed spectacularly in City of Parma v. Horky. The Court of Appeals in the Eighth District still declared the statute unconstitutional and didn’t buy the prosecution’s arguments that the statute could be applied in a constitutional way. So, if you’re ever charged with criminal child enticement in Ohio, it’s important to remember that it still remains unconstitutional.

Human Trafficking Laws in Ohio

Finally, ORC § 2905.32 criminalizes “trafficking in persons.” Basically, this falls into two categories—1) involuntary labor exploitation and 2) sexual exploitation. This offense covers a broad range of behaviors for either of those purposes: recruiting, luring, enticing, harboring, isolating, transporting, providing, maintaining, or attempting to do any of these things to someone. The offender has to know that the other person is going to be used for labor against their will or “compelled” to engage in sexual activity. “Compelling” someone means that the trafficker uses “force, fear, duress, intimidation, or fraud” to get the person to engage in either some form of prostitution or an “obscene, sexually oriented, or nudity oriented” production. For sexual exploitation, you’re really talking about compelling or assisting in some way of an attempt to compel someone to engage in prostitution or some form of pornography. However, just engaging in sexual activity with or soliciting it from a trafficked person isn’t enough under the statute.

Are you or someone you know facing criminal charges? 

If you are facing criminal charges, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams is recognized by Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, National Trial Lawyers Top 100, and is one of U.S. News' Best Law Firms.  Please contact us online or call our Cincinnati office directly at 513-929-9333 to schedule your free consultation. 

Tad Brittingham
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Criminal defense attorney Tad Brittingham is dedicated to serving his clients throughout the Cincinnati area