Most people have a sense of what kidnapping is. Maryland law punishes the abducting or carrying away of another, by force or by fraud, harshly, with up to 30 years in prison. Some lawyers are aware of an important exception to the charge -it does not apply to the act of a parent in taking his or her minor child outside the state. There are, however, other provisions of the criminal law and family law that apply to this situation. Asportation, or the unlawful carrying away of the victim, is an essential element of the crime of kidnapping. The seasoned lawyer knows that unlawfully confining a person, without more, is false imprisonment, not kidnapping. The distance carried away does not matter. Even a small distance will suffice.
False imprisonment is the unlawful detention of a person. Maryland case law distinguishes the common law crime of false imprisonment as a lesser-included offense of kidnapping. Case law suggests that false imprisonment may be a fineable offense, and attorneys have argued that where there is no carrying away, or where there is no force, the appropriate charge is false imprisonment.