On August 4, 2020 the New Jersey Supreme Court rendered its opinion on a challenge to a Defendant’s kidnapping conviction in State v. Juan E. Cruz-Pena. The Court considered defendant’s jury conviction of first-degree kidnapping for confining C.M. for a “substantial period” for the purpose of committing various crimes against her. The Appellate Division reversed the kidnapping conviction, concluding that C.M.’s captivity did not fall within the meaning of the kidnapping statute because her “confinement was merely incidental to the underlying sex crime.” 459 N.J. Super. 513, 516 (App. Div. 2019) (emphasis added).
Ultimately the New Jersey Supreme Court reinstated Defendant’s kidnapping conviction, holding the language of the kidnapping statute, along with the case law construing that language, must be read in a sensible manner and not taken to an illogical conclusion. Holding a victim in captivity for a period of four to five hours, while assaulting and sexually abusing her, satisfies the “substantial period” requirement of the kidnapping statute — even if the length of the confinement is co-extensive with the continuous sexual and physical abuse of the victim. In addition, the Court cannot find that, as a matter of law, the terrifying four-to-five-hour period of C.M.’s confinement was “merely incidental” to the sexual violence committed against her. There is no basis to disturb the jury’s verdict.
The court’s full decision can be found on NJcourts.gov.
If you or a loved one is charged with Kidnapping or a Sex Crime in Jersey City, North Bergen, Newark, Hackensack, Secaucus, Bayonne, or any of the surrounding counties, please do not hesitate to contact us at 201-470-3215.