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Kidnapping Defense Lawyer in Cincinnati, OH

In Ohio, to be accused of any form of kidnapping charge is an extremely serious matter. The state charges this type of offense as a felony of the first degree. Without the proper defense, a defendant risks a conviction, which could mean spending 10 years in prison.

If you have been arrested or charged—or police are investigating you in connection with kidnapping, do not choose your legal counsel haphazardly. Look for a law firm that can show you results in defending other criminal defendants in Ohio.

Brian Joslyn, a criminal defense attorney, and Joslyn Law Firm’s team of lawyers enjoy national recognition as criminal law experts. Their knowledge and determination show a strong track record of victories in more than 20,000 cases. This team has won several awards and was even chosen as one of Ohio’s best criminal attorneys by the NACDA.

A Nationally Recognized Kidnapping Defense Lawyer

As a first-degree felony, a kidnapping conviction not only robs you of your freedom but also penalizes you in multiple other ways. Such a conviction can impose hefty fines. Furthermore, having a felony on your criminal record will restrict you in ways you cannot even imagine, making it hard to get a job and possibly stripping you of child custody and numerous civil liberties.

Our lawyers’ reputations extend far and wide throughout Ohio. Columbus CEO Magazine named Brian Joslyn a Top Lawyer in Columbus, and the American Lawyer Association nominated him as the Best American Lawyer. When the stakes are high, this is the kind of reputation defendants seek.

All too easily, police and prosecutors can violate your rights as a criminal defendant. Be certain you retain an attorney who can and will protect you.

Brian Joslyn and the lawyers at Joslyn Law Firm commit to devoting every ounce of legal experience, Central Ohio courthouse knowledge, and utmost perseverance when defending you—never resting until they have achieved the best possible outcome in your case. Call Joslyn Law Firm today at (513) 399-6289 for a free consultation.

Ohio Kidnapping Information Center:

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Definitions Related to Kidnapping in Ohio

Ohio defines its kidnapping laws in the Ohio Revised Code § 2905.01. Within this text, the state declares it legal to take an individual from one place—whether this removal occurs by use of threat, force, or deception—or constrict a person’s freedom with any of the following objectives:

  • Collecting a ransom
  • Using the person as a hostage or a shield
  • Enabling the act of a felony
  • Fleeing the scene after committing a felony
  • Engaging in sexual activity with the individual against their will
  • Blocking some governmental role or activity
  • Forcing some outcome from a governmental authority
  • Forcing the person into a position of involuntary servitude

Provisions Related to Certain Victims

The statute further defines kidnapping laws connected with victims who are younger than 13 years old and/or who can be considered mentally incompetent. Ohio law makes it illegal to take a minor or mentally incompetent individual from the place where they are found and restrict their freedom in a way that it presents a substantial risk of serious physical harm to them. To do so constitutes kidnapping.

If the kidnapping victim is a minor, felony of the first-degree kidnapping charges also apply if the child is removed or restrained in a manner that either promotes a substantial risk of physical harm or results in the child suffering physical harm.

How Ohio Defines Sexual Activity

The state defines terms related to sexual activity in Ohio Revised Code § 2907.01. As written in this section about sex offenses, sexual activity consists of any sexual contact and/or sexual conduct.

  • Sexual contact: This consists of touching erogenous areas—genitals, pubic region, female breast, thigh, buttock, and other such parts—with the intent of achieving sexual arousal or gratification.
  • Sexual conduct: This refers to vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, and the insertion of objects into the anus or vagina of another person.

Other Kidnapping-Related Offenses

Ohio Revised Code § 2905 also defines other kidnapping-type offenses:

  • Abduction (the victim is over the age of 13): Second-degree felony
  • Unlawful restraint (lesser included offense of kidnapping/abduction): Third-degree misdemeanor
  • Criminal child enticement (luring a child to accompany you): First-degree misdemeanor

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Penalties for Kidnapping in Cincinnati

The Ohio justice system charges kidnapping as a first-degree felony, with one exception. In the event that the offender returns the kidnapping victim unharmed, the charge drops to a second-degree felony. However, this stipulation does not apply if the kidnapping victim was held in a state of involuntary servitude.

The penalties for these charges include the following:

  • Felony of the first degree: Prison term of three to 11 years; fine of up to $20,000
  • Felony of the second degree: Prison term of two to eight years; fine of up to $15,000
  • Misdemeanor of the first degree: Jail term of up to 180 days and/or fine of up to $1,000
  • Misdemeanor of the third degree: Jail term of up to 60 days and/or fine of up to $500


In cases where kidnapping connects to a human trafficking violation as described in Ohio Revised Code § 2941.1422, the court may order the alleged offender to make restitution on top of a mandatory prison term.

Kidnapping Minors with Sexual Motivation

When a kidnapping offense involves a child victim (under the age of 13) who was removed for some sexually motivated purpose, the offense becomes a first-degree felony.

First-degree felonies can lead to prison sentences, with a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of a life prison sentence. The court can reduce the minimum term to 10 years if the victim is returned to a safe place unharmed.

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Evidence in Hamilton County Kidnapping Cases

As with any criminal case in Ohio, the accused stands innocent until the prosecution proves guilt. This burden of proof serves as a central point of focus for the defendant’s lawyer. They will review the prosecution’s evidence and identify weak areas they can exploit to dismantle the case against their client.

The defense lawyer’s chief objective is to raise reasonable doubt. They can do this by suggesting alternate theories of the crime, working to discredit witnesses, and otherwise challenging the prosecution’s evidence.

Sources of Evidence

Common sources of evidence in Cincinnati kidnapping cases include:

  • Witness testimony
  • Photos
  • Surveillance videos
  • Police reports
  • Scene from where the victim was taken
  • Scene from where the victim was held

Suppressing Evidence

In their efforts to weaken the prosecution’s case, criminal defense lawyers often work to have key pieces of evidence suppressed from the trial.

A common strategy toward this end includes arguing that police or investigators violated the defendant’s constitutional rights when obtaining the evidence. For example:

  • Fourth Amendment: The U.S. Constitution guarantees every citizen’s protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. Without probable cause or a valid warrant, government figures (including police, investigators, and prosecutors) are not allowed to search your home, your car, or your person. Doing so constitutes a violation of your rights.
  • Fifth Amendment: The Constitution also gives citizens a set of rights commonly known as “Miranda rights.” They include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Police must inform you of these rights before interrogating you after an arrest. If you invoke your right to remain silent, the interrogation must stop. Invoke this right and your right to an attorney to keep yourself from saying something that will be used against you in court.

If a defense lawyer can convince a jury that evidence resulted from the violation of one of these Constitutional rights, the court will suppress the evidence, along with any connected evidence that otherwise would not have been discovered without the unlawfully obtained evidence. Courts refer to such evidence as “fruit of the poison tree.”

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Defenses to Cincinnati Kidnapping Charges

A kidnapping defense lawyer in Cincinnati, OH, can draw from several defense strategies when representing someone accused of kidnapping.

False Accusation

This defense argues that the defendant simply did not commit the kidnapping crime. The defense attorney can provide evidence of an alibi that puts you somewhere else at the time of the kidnapping.


Several scenarios can result in an individual removing a child or adult from one location without the offender intending to kidnap. For example, confusion surrounding custody arrangements can lead to this occurrence. In other situations, a child might occupy the back seat of a vehicle that the accused drives off in without realizing the child is there.


In certain cases, the defense team will present evidence showing that someone forced the alleged offender to commit the kidnapping offense against their will. The defendant’s lawyer can provide corroborating evidence, like medical records and recorded phone calls or voicemails that support this argument.

Constitutional Violations

As discussed earlier, if police violated a defendant’s rights in the investigation, arrest, or interrogation process, the accused’s lawyer can make a motion to suppress any evidence obtained from or connected to that violation.

Common violations include searching without a warrant and refusing to honor the arrested individual’s Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent and have legal counsel.

Protecting a Child
Some cases of child enticement can be defended with the argument that the alleged offender took the child in an effort to protect them from harm.

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Ohio Kidnapping Resources

Ohio Revised Code § 2905: Kidnapping and Extortion

This section of the Ohio Revised Code clearly outlines the state’s laws regarding kidnapping, abduction, unlawful restraint, and criminal child enticement. You can review this text to understand the scope of these laws and the charges associated with each offense.

This page also embeds cross-referenced links that will jump you to other sections of the Ohio Revised Code that connect with some kidnapping-related offenses.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost: Ohio Crime Victims’ Rights

The Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost provides this guide for victims of violent crimes. While the document gives these victims useful information, it also offers important information for individuals who are accused of these crimes, including kidnapping.

As someone who has been charged with kidnapping, you will likely want to know about the alleged victim’s right to receive notification regarding your arrest, conviction, sentencing, release, or escape.

The victim also might pursue a protection order against you, restricting areas you can go without violating the order. This document also offers useful information regarding the judicial process starting from the date of the crime all the way through sentencing/appeal.

Office of Justice Programs: A Law Enforcement Guide on International Parental Kidnapping

Ohio’s Office of Justice Programs produced this guide for local, state, and federal law enforcement officers who are engaged in the unlawful removal of a child to another country.

The guide presents prevention methods, suggested legal remedies, and information on investigating and prosecuting offenders. Of particular interest is a section that details all the steps taken from the moment a parental child kidnapping case is reported.

Washington and Lee University: Wisconsin v. Seiler

This case involves the 2004 kidnapping of a 22-year-old Audrey Seiler, in Madison Wisconsin. She was abducted from her apartment and driven around Wisconsin for hours.

When forensic investigators became involved, they discovered that an individual had been conducting online searches for parks and wooded areas in Madison using Siler’s laptop. Surveillance video showed the abductor purchasing supplies like a knife, Nyquil, rope, and duct tape from a local target.

He also used a cell phone to call an accomplice, notifying them that he had completed some task. Police found Seiler two miles from her apartment. The Federal Kidnapping Act had not been violated because the abductor never crossed state lines.

However, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act passed in 2006 amended the Kidnapping Act in a way that lengthened federal reach in kidnapping cases where the abductor uses instruments or channels of interstate commerce.

United States Courts: Miranda v. Arizona

This 1963 Supreme Court decision involved Ernesto Miranda, who, during his police interrogation, wrote a confession to kidnapping and raping a woman. Miranda’s lawyers appealed based on the fact that the defendant’s fifth amendment rights had been violated.

Police had not instructed Miranda that he had the right to remain silent, the right to have a lawyer present, and that anything he said could and would be used against him in a court of law.

As such, Miranda’s confession to the kidnapping and rape could not be used against him at trial. The results of this decision are now known as the Miranda Rights (outlined here by the U.S. Courts).

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Ohio Kidnapping News

January 27, 2021

“Ohio Supreme Court to Decide Limits of Marsy’s Law in Kidnapping, Rape Trial” reported that the Ohio Supreme Court is reviewing a crime victim’s right to sit with prosecution at a kidnapping and rape trial. The victim was introduced as a representative of the state, and the attorney of defendant Theodis Montgomery said this action prejudiced the jury against Montgomery.

The victim’s seating arrangement at the trial arose from an interpretation of Marsy’s Law, which is a set of victims’ rights that was recently amended into the Ohio Constitution.

According to Justice Melody Stewart, jurors who are less familiar with the criminal court system might misinterpret the victim’s position at the prosecution table and could add credibility to the victim’s testimony. A decision is anticipated in several months.

January 12, 2021

“78-year-old Georgia Man Sentenced to Prison in 1978 Park Hills Kidnapping, Rape”

A forensic break in a kidnapping and rape case from 1978 led investigators to Georgia resident Michael Dean Tate, reported

The man admitted to the offenses, which involved kidnapping a Park Hills woman from outside her residence, then sexually assaulting her in another location. Police resubmitted a fingerprint lifted from the victim’s car in 2017, effectively cracking the cold case.

Kenton Circuit Court Judge Patricia Summe sentenced Tate to a 12-year prison term after accepting a plea. Rob Sanders, attorney for Kenton Commonwealth, offered the plea, which gave Tate a shorter sentence than he would have received in trial. The prosecutors explained that the challenges in proving the soundness of the chain of custody played a role in extending the plea offer.

December 10, 2020

“Death Penalty Upheld for Man Who Killed Two Women in Ashland”

Ashland, Ohio, resident Shawn Grate remains on death row after the Ohio Supreme Court upheld his death sentence, reported Court News Ohio.

Grate had been convicted for killing two women and abducting and raping another woman. Grate’s attorneys argued that multiple errors during trial affected the outcome of the trial, but the Supreme Court rejected these arguments.

Although the court did point out that Grate’s defense should have objected to various pieces of testimony and evidence, the court ultimately concluded that with a substantial amount of evidence against Grate meant the ineffectiveness of his lawyers did not serve to deprive the man of a fair trial. The surviving abduction victim was able to escape from Grate in 2016 after being held against her will for two nights.

October 24, 2020

“Domestic Terrorist Groups Aimed at Overthrowing Government a Growing Threat, Expert Says”

A man called law enforcement to report a plot to kidnap Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. ABC News 5 Cleveland reported that a Miami County resident informed police that someone tried to recruit him to engage in a plan to kidnap the governor from his home. The would-be kidnappers would then try the governor for tyranny.

Plotters’ motivation for the crime stemmed from frustration over the governor’s handling of the pandemic. The foiled plot came on the heels of another, separate conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

According to Tim Dimoff, national security expert, the country has seen an uptick in the number of domestic terrorist groups. As a result, state politicians will likely see 24/7 security.

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FAQs for Kidnapping in Cincinnati

Q. Can Kidnapping Charges Be Reduced or Dismissed in Ohio?

  1. Yes, your lawyer can work to have kidnapping charges reduced or possibly even dismissed in Cincinnati. Kidnapping is typically charged as a first-degree felony in Ohio, but if the victim is returned to a safe located—and unharmed—the charge can be reduced to a felony in the second degree.

Kidnapping charges can even be dismissed, especially if your defense lawyer succeeds in stripping the prosecution’s case of all its substantial evidence. A successful defense of insufficient evidence can lead a judge to dismiss charges because the prosecutor bears the burden of proof.

Q. Can I Go to Jail for Kidnapping in Cincinnati?

  1. You can go to prison if you are convicted of kidnapping in Ohio. This offense is usually charged as a first-degree felony, which carries a prison sentence of between three and 11 years, in addition to five years of post-release control (PRC). The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction explains PRC and offers a chart for the terms of supervision based on felony level. If your charges are reduced to a second-degree felony, you face the possibility of serving between two and eight years in prison, along with five years of PRC.

Q. When Does a Person Commit Kidnapping in Ohio?

  1. When an individual uses threat, force, or restraint to take another person from the place where they were found to another location, the offense constitutes kidnapping in Ohio. Furthermore, if a person holds another person in involuntary servitude in order to engage in sexual acts, enable a felony, inflict harm or terrorize, hold for ransom, or block some type of governmental action, the offense also qualifies as kidnapping in the state.

Q. Are There Any Defenses to Kidnapping in Cincinnati?

  1. Yes, a kidnapping lawyer can mount any of several defenses for a kidnapping charge in Cincinnati. Common defenses against this charge include:
  • Mistake or unintentional act
  • False accusation
  • Protecting a child from harm
  • Coercion
  • Insufficient evidence
  • Constitutional violations

Q. Can Kidnapping Be a Misdemeanor?

  1. The Ohio Revised Code accounts for kidnapping-related offenses that are charged as misdemeanors. Child enticement is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, and unlawful restraint is charged as a third-degree misdemeanor.

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Kidnapping Defense Lawyer in Cincinnati, OH

If a court convicts you of kidnapping or abduction in Ohio, you face serious penalties, including a prison sentence and considerable fines. These offenses are charged as felonies, and they will remain on your permanent record, which will impose collateral consequences that will affect you for the rest of your life.

Some of these consequences include:

  • Difficulty getting a job
  • Trouble with child custody arrangements
  • Inability to buy a gun

A Joslyn Law Firm kidnapping defense lawyer in Cincinnati, Ohio, will put their years of experience protecting the rights of Ohio’s criminal defendants to work for you. We will ensure your rights are not violated, and we will mount a defense aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

Call Joslyn Law Firm today at (513) 399-6289 for a free case review and consultation.

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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional excellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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