Kidnapping Lawyers in Edmonton

What is Kidnapping?

Kidnapping is a criminal offence classified as an “offence against the person and reputation” per section 279 of the Criminal Code of Canada (the “Code”).

In Edmonton, although kidnapping incidents are relatively uncommon, they have steadily risen from 2016-2020 from 24 incidents, to 48. The Edmonton Police Service remain on high alert for these offences, and will often team up with additional resources such as rural RCMP, as well as issuing Amber Alerts to the public to help them resolve the emergency as soon as possible.

“Kidnapping” is defined as moving a person from one place to another, and is an offence if it is done for any one of three reasons:

  1. To cause the person to be confined or imprisoned against their will;
  2. To cause the person to be unlawfully transported or sent out of Canada against their will; or
  3. To hold the person for ransom or service against their will.

The relevant provision for a kidnapping charge in the Code is:

Kidnapping

279 (1) Every person commits an offence who kidnaps a person with intent

(a) to cause the person to be confined or imprisoned against the person’s will;

(b) to cause the person to be unlawfully sent or transported out of Canada against the person’s will; or

(c) to hold the person for ransom or to service against the person’s will.

A kidnapping charge is a serious offence that is complex. It requires careful review of the police investigation and a firm understanding of the nature of the alleged events. For these reasons, having an experienced criminal defence lawyer on your side is critical.

Investigation of Kidnapping Charges in Edmonton

An investigation of a kidnapping charge in Edmonton is typically initiated by family, friends or the partner of an alleged victim. They contact the Edmonton Police Service and report it.

The key question the police will ask prior to launching a full investigation is: Is this out of character for this individual?

They will also require that the person reporting the missing person have checked to see if they have communicated with or been seen by any of the following:

  • Hospitals in the area;
  • Friends, acquaintances and family members;
  • Work or school; and
  • Places the alleged victim is known to frequently attend.

Edmonton Police Service take kidnapping very seriously. Once they have spoken to the complainant and assessed the level of risk they will begin searching for the victim by ground, air and water vessel if required. Furthermore, they may engage the public to help identify the missing persons last whereabouts or a specific vehicle, etc.

Once the police have found the missing person they will arrest you at the scene if they believe you are the perpetrator. If you are not present at the scene, the police will track you down or issue a warrant for your arrest.

After you have been charged, police will provide a package with all the evidence they collected, known as the “disclosure package,” to the Crown Prosecutor. You will have the right to access this disclosure package to see the evidence against you. Once you retain one of our lawyers, we will assist you in obtaining the disclosure package, and we will review it with you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Crown’s case, as well as any legal defences that may be available to you.

Bail Process and Conditions for Kidnapping Charges in Edmonton

How do I get myself or a loved one out on bail for kidnapping charges in Edmonton?

When charged with kidnapping, you will likely be kept in custody and require a formal bail hearing to secure your release.

The bail hearing must be held within 24 hours, a period that starts from the moment of arrest or detention rather than the time when you are brought to the district office or courthouse.

In order to conduct a bail hearing, you will be transferred from the district office to the Arrest Processing Unit in the basement of the Edmonton Police Headquarters.

Edmonton Police Service Headquarters is located downtown at:

Edmonton Police Service Headquarters
9620 103a Ave NW
Edmonton, AB T5H 0H7
Tel: 780-423-4567

Loved ones are not able to contact you while you are detained. The police will not release any information to friends or family due to privacy laws. Your lawyer is the only person allowed to contact you. Once the police have verified your lawyer’s details, they will pass on information about your whereabouts, if requested.

Because of these difficulties, while you are held in custody, it is best to appoint a competent defence lawyer as soon as possible to manage the legal processes and communicate with loved ones. After an arrest, the police must provide you with the opportunity to call a lawyer in private and, if that happens, stop questioning you.

Once you retain one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers, we will begin working to secure your release on bail.

We will immediately do the following:

  1. Call in to the Arrest Processing Unit in Edmonton and speak to you.
  2. Contact the prosecutor assigned to the bail hearing to start negotiating your release.
  3. Order and secure a copy of the police information package that details the allegations against you in advance of the bail hearing. This allows the lawyer to make meaningful representations to the court about why you should be released on bail.
  4. Conduct either an in-person or teleconference bail hearing to secure your release.

When you attend your bail hearing, the judge will consider:

  • Is detention necessary to secure your attendance in court?
  • Is detention necessary to protect the public from a substantial risk of re-offence?
  • Is detention necessary in all the circumstances to maintain confidence in the administration of justice?

Due to the serious nature of kidnapping allegations, the Crown Prosecutor is likely to request your detention until the charges are completed in the court system. Therefore, the court may deny your release. If you are released, you will likely face tight restrictions (see below).

Rest assured, we will work to not only secure your release but also to ensure the least restrictive set of bail conditions (including the minimum cash deposit).

In order for our lawyers to secure less stringent conditions, the judge will need to be satisfied that you will attend court as required and that you pose no significant risk of harm to the public. This may be difficult in a kidnapping case, but not impossible.

Our lawyers are often successful at persuading the prosecutor in charge of bail to let our clients out. If we can’t convince the Crown, we can conduct a formal bail hearing and work to convince the court. Even if you are ultimately detained, we can appeal that decision on very short notice through a bail review, which is conducted at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. 

Where can I pay bail for kidnapping charges in Edmonton?

If you or a loved one are charged with kidnapping in Edmonton and granted bail, you may be required to provide a cash deposit to secure release. The cash deposit can be paid at any courthouse in Alberta. Even if you live in Calgary, you can pay bail there for someone detained in Edmonton.

Bail hearing offices in Edmonton are open from 8 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week.

The Edmonton Bail Hearing Office is located at:

Brownlee Building
10365 97 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T4J 3W7
Tel: 780-422-3699

You can also make a bail payment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at the Edmonton Remand Centre:

Edmonton Remand Centre
18415 127 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T6V 1B1
Tel: 780-638-5100

To pay your own bail, you can make a payment after your hearing, assuming you have sufficient funds with you to do so. 

How do I change my release conditions for kidnapping charges in Edmonton?

Release on bail with kidnapping charges will almost always require a surety, cash, or no-cash deposit.

Furthermore, you can expect tight restrictions, including conditions to refrain from:

  • Contacting the alleged victim;
  • Leaving your house (i.e. house arrest);
  • Staying out beyond a certain time (i.e. curfew);
  • Breaking any laws;
  • Using drugs or alcohol;
  • Possessing weapons;
  • Possessing firearms;
  • Visiting certain places; and/or
  • Travelling.

The judge may also impose additional conditions such as:

  • Residing where approved;
  • Reporting to probation;
  • Attending counselling; and/or
  • Maintaining or seeking employment.

A variety of factors will be considered when determining your precise restrictions, including:

  • Your criminal history;
  • Your physical and mental condition;
  • Your history of drug/alcohol usage;
  • The nature of the alleged offence;
  • The likelihood that you will flee;
  • Whether you have stable employment;
  • Whether you have stable living arrangements; and
  • Whether you have ties to the community.

If you have already been released, at least for the short term, it is critical that you make arrangements to abide by your conditions until they can be changed. Breaching the terms of your release can result in further charges or a revocation of your bail, as well as a forfeiture of any cash paid to secure your release. It is important to take these conditions seriously.

Once the matter is in court, we can work with the Crown Prosecutor to alter your conditions. This includes either adding exceptions to some of the conditions or eliminating them altogether.

If your court date is far away and you cannot wait until then, we can arrange to have the matter dealt with sooner. Our first priority is always to stabilize your release conditions. That way, you will not feel pressured to plead guilty because of the restrictive terms of your release. Once the conditions are manageable and minimally intrusive to your daily routine, we can focus 100% of our attention on defending the case.

Penalties for Kidnapping Charges in Edmonton

Kidnapping is treated as a straight indictable offence. This means that the punishment is more severe.

Your punishment will vary depending on the circumstances of the offence:

  • If a restricted of prohibited firearm was used:
    • First offence: Minimum 5 years’ imprisonment;
    • Second or subsequent offence: Minimum 7 years’ imprisonment.
  • If any firearm was used: Minimum 4 years’ imprisonment.
  • If the victim was under 16 years of age and you are not their guardian: Minimum 5 years’ imprisonment.

The maximum punishment for kidnapping is imprisonment for life.

In addition to the immediate penalties resulting from a kidnapping conviction, it can also have negative impacts on your future. You may have trouble securing employment in the field of your choice. This is especially the case for roles that require interacting with children, the elderly, or other vulnerable sectors of society. The lifelong criminal record that results from a conviction can also hinder immigration, travel, and can raise child custody issues.

For these reasons, even if you intend on accepting responsibility for this type of offence, it is worthwhile to explore your options and consider all the potential penalties. Often, good representation can result in no criminal record. Furthermore, a community-based sentence may be obtained even where the Crown is seeking jail time.

Rest assured, our lawyers will work hard to defend you so that you are not saddled with the consequences that stem from a kidnapping charge. In fact, we can canvass a range of sentencing options with the prosecutors that will either leave you with no criminal record or impose minimal restrictions on your liberty after sentencing. To learn more about potential non-criminal resolutions, please visit our resolutions page, or read our FAQ on resolutions and other sentencing options.

edmonton Kidnapping lawyers

Defending Kidnapping Charges in Edmonton

What are the best defence to kidnapping charges in Edmonton?

The defence that is best for you will depend on the circumstances of your offence. Generally, some of the best defences to kidnapping are:

  • Factual Innocence: This is usually the strongest defence because the facts and the evidence do not support you being there or other basic elements of the offence. This could include:
    • Identity: In some circumstances you may be able to raise an identity defence. For example, authorities could have made a mistake in identifying you as the perpetrator. To effectively raise this defence, you may need corroborative evidence, such as an alibi to where you were at the time of the offence.
  • Lack of Mens Rea: In order to succeed in charging you with kidnapping, the Crown must show that you intended to; confine or imprison the alleged victim, cause the person to be sent out of country or hold them for ransom or service. If reasonable doubt can be raised that you did not intend any of the aforementioned, it will weaken the Crowns case against you.
  • Mistaken Belief of Consent: If you honestly (but mistakenly) believed the alleged victim gave you consent to move them somewhere, this will challenge the Crown’s case and can lead to a full defence.
  • Violation of Constitutional Rights: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) sets out your rights before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights, it can aid your defence.

While the Crown must prove the elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt, you may bear the responsibility of raising certain defences at trial. The burden of proof remains high for this kind of prosecution. This means that there are many successful defence strategies that our experienced defence lawyers can employ, depending on the circumstances of your case.

The availability and strength of any defence depends on the specific facts of your case. Our lawyers have significant experience assessing the availability and strengths of various potential defences in assault cases, as well as presenting any and all available defences to the court at trial. Even if you believe that you will be found guilty, it is important that you obtain a legal opinion about defences that may be available to you. 

How can I help defend kidnapping charges in Edmonton?

If you have been charged with kidnapping, the following actions can help your lawyer build a strong defence:

  • Take detailed notes about your version of events to provide to your lawyer;
  • Have available witnesses write down their observations of what happened;
  • Collect and maintain all documents and records about the event;
  • Gather any photographic evidence that you may have; and
  • Log any relevant texts, emails or phone calls.

As soon as you are released, start gathering any information that may be of use to your lawyer. What information is relevant will depend on the facts of your case. If you are uncertain what information may be relevant, you should contact one of our lawyers immediately to create a plan of action for gathering information.

To be truly proactive about the matter, consider doing the following:

  • Secure proof of employment;
  • Secure reference letters;
  • Enroll in counselling (e.g. alcohol or drug rehabilitation);
  • Secure a record of prescriptions; and
  • Secure a record of any mental health conditions you suffer from.

These steps can be very helpful in building an effective defence (or convincing the prosecutor to drop the charges altogether).

What can a lawyer do to help me defend against kidnapping charges in Edmonton?

As we start preparing your defence by examining police actions and the evidence against you, there are certain defence strategies that can be used to aid your cause.

Some of these include:

  • Assembling documents, photos, texts, etc. that contradict the allegation and support your version of events;
  • Identifying mistakes in the actions of the police, such as Charter breaches; and
  • Uncovering administrative/systemic errors, such as “Jordan delay,” non-disclosure, lost or destroyed evidence, etc.

Even if the charges proceed and you are found guilty, a good lawyer can significantly reduce the severity of the consequences for you.

Further Reading

Below are a few notable cases dealing with various aspects of kidnapping charges:

In R v Vu, 2012 SCC 40, the accused with charged with kidnapping. The victim was kidnapped by several men who held him for 8 days, prior to being freed by police. At issue was whether the accused should be charged with kidnapping, as he was not involved in the initial “taking” or kidnapping of the victim, only the latter confinement of the victim after he was already being held. The SCC determined that although the accused did not participate in the initial kidnapping, his decision to participate in the continuation of the crime was sufficient to charge him with kidnapping. The accused was found guilty.

In R v Beckley, 2021 MBPC 8, there were three joint accused charged with several offences including aggravated assault, robbery and kidnapping. At issue was whether one of the accused could positively be identified as one of the kidnappers. The accused provided a very general description of the assailants and later chose photos out of a lineup. The accused was not initially chosen out of the lineup, though upon looking at the photos again the next day, the accused was identified. Other than this, the accused was not identified by the victim in court, nor were the clothing he was described to be wearing found. The court determined that it was not shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was involved in the kidnapping. The accused was acquitted.

What’s Next?

Most of the information above relates to simple kidnapping charges, which can become increasingly complex and fact-specific depending on the circumstances of your case.

We have tried our best to provide a general outline of what you can expect if you find yourself in this situation, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team of kidnapping lawyers. We will conduct a thorough review of your situation and tailor a precise strategy that targets your successful defence.

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