Kidnapping Doesn’t Look Like You Might Expect

On TV and in movies, kidnapping is often portrayed as a “stranger danger” case where someone swipes a child off the street. Because of this, many of our clients are confused to find themselves facing Oklahoma kidnapping charges.

You don’t need to steal a child to be charged with kidnapping. There are only four elements of the crime under Oklahoma law—and none of them have to do with the age of the victim.

  1. unlawfully
  2. seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct, or carry away
  3. another person
  4. the intent to confine that person, imprison that person, send that person out of state, sell that person as a slave, or hold that person to service against their will

There does not need to be a child involved for you to be charged with kidnapping in Tulsa, Oklahoma. You could be charged with kidnapping whenever your conduct meets the elements of the crime, even if the victim is your spouse or another adult.

Kidnapping Is Most Often an Add-On Charge

What do we see most often with kidnapping charges in Tulsa, Oklahoma? The Berlin Law Firm generally sees kidnapping as an add-on charge and not typically as a standalone offense. Rare is the true single count of kidnapping.

What charges most often lead to an add-on charge for kidnapping? We see these quite often with sex crimes and in domestic assault and battery cases where the individual is trying to leave a room and the defendant or prospective client prevents that person from leaving the room. This is often because you’re having an argument and you're not done talking to the person. You won't let them leave the room until you finish that conversation and put your conflict to bed. Well, technically, under the law in Oklahoma, that is an unlawful seizing or confining of a person with intent—a.k.a. KIDNAPPING.

It might not matter if your intention was not to imprison a person or confine a person, but to simply have a conversation for five more minutes. Here is a big surprise: there is no minimum time required under the kidnapping statute! It might only be for five minutes. It might be for a minute. It might be for a month.

Time doesn't matter if you unlawfully confine a person against their will. It doesn't matter if you have good intentions or if you're trying to help your relationship. If the confinement is against their will, it's technically kidnapping.

Sentencing Ranges for Oklahoma Kidnapping Charges

The sentencing range is up to 20 years in prison, but in most fact patterns with a skilled Tulsa criminal defense attorney, you are looking at something at the lower end of the sentencing range. You might be at the bottom. You might be zero. You might be probation-eligible, but kidnapping is still a felony. You can still technically be charged with it and be exposed to up to 20 years in prison.

Developing a Defense Strategy

The Berlin Defense system was developed based on my experience as a Tulsa felony prosecutor. We’ll investigate the circumstances of your case, evaluate the strength of the evidence, and work to develop a strategy that promotes the best possible outcome for your case.

Lack of Intent

One of the primary defenses in a kidnapping case is challenging the intent element of the crime. Oklahoma kidnapping charges generally require the prosecution to prove that the defendant intentionally and unlawfully restrained, confined, or removed another person against their will. If we can demonstrate a lack of intent, it can significantly weaken the prosecution's case. For instance, if it can be established that the alleged act was accidental or resulted from a misunderstanding, it may support our argument.


Consent can be a powerful defense against kidnapping charges. If the alleged victim willingly went with you or voluntarily stayed with you, it can undermine the prosecution's case. This defense is especially applicable in cases involving disputes over custody or relationships where both parties had previously agreed to the movement or confinement.

Mistaken Identity or False Accusation

Sometimes, individuals may be wrongly identified as the perpetrator of a kidnapping crime. Establishing an alibi, presenting evidence of mistaken identity, or proving that false accusations were made can be effective defenses. This defense often involves gathering substantial evidence and testimonies to demonstrate that the defendant was not involved in the alleged crime.

Lack of Sufficient Evidence

Challenging the prosecution's evidence is a fundamental defense strategy in any criminal case. This defense may involve scrutinizing the investigation process, questioning the credibility of witnesses, or highlighting any inconsistencies in the evidence presented. If we can create reasonable doubt regarding the prosecution's case, it can significantly strengthen your position.

Duress or Coercion

It may provide a viable defense if you committed the kidnapping under duress or coercion. We may be able to argue that you acted against your will due to the threat of harm or force exerted upon you by another individual. Evidence such as witness statements, physical injuries, or documented acts of violence or intimidation can support this defense strategy.

Lee Berlin
Dedicated to defending clients accused of domestic violence, sex & violent crimes throughout eastern Oklahoma.