Finding Aranza: A Tale of Justice, Kidnapping Laws, and Hope in Washington State

Aranza Maria Ochoa Lopez, who was kidnapped from a mall in Washington state in 2018 when she was four years old, has been found alive and well in Mexico. Her mother, Esmeralda Lopez-Lopez, was arrested in Mexico in 2019, but Aranza remained missing until she was located in Michoacán, Mexico, in February. She has now been returned to the United States. Aranza’s mother pleaded guilty to kidnapping and other charges and received a 20-month prison sentence. Aranza had been in foster care due to allegations of abuse by her mother and was on a supervised visit when she was kidnapped. The FBI and their partners worked for over four years to find her, and now their focus is on supporting her as she reintegrates into the US.

Kidnapping is a grave offense that strikes at the very core of personal liberty and safety. In the state of Washington, the legal system takes kidnapping cases seriously, prioritizing the victims and the safety of the community. However it is important to note that every person being charged with a crime has a right to a fair trial, and the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer strongly believes in ensuring that right in every case.

Defining Kidnapping in Washington

Under Washington state law, kidnapping is broadly defined as the intentional and unlawful confinement or transportation of another person without their consent. It involves the use of force, threat, or deception to restrain an individual and restrict their freedom of movement against their will. Kidnapping can occur in various contexts, such as abductions for ransom, parental abductions, or cases involving sexual exploitation.

Different Degrees of Kidnapping

Kidnapping offenses in Washington are categorized into different degrees based on the severity and circumstances of the crime. Let’s take a closer look at these degrees:

Kidnapping in the 1st Degree: This crime entails abducting another person with the aim to commit a felony, cause bodily harm, or create extreme mental distress. Additionally, attempting to obtain a ransom or using a person as a hostage or shield constitutes the same offense. It is classified as a Class A felony, the most severe level of crime in Washington. Offenders who are convicted can face life imprisonment and penalties of up to $50,000.00.

Kidnapping in the 2nd Degree: This offense includes unlawfully abducting another person without the intent to employ lethal force. It is classified as a Class B felony, punishable by up to ten years in jail, a $20,000.00 fine, or both. If sexual motivation is discovered, this offense is elevated to a Class A Felony with the same consequences as the preceding charge.

Unlawful Imprisonment: Unlawful Imprisonment is committed when a person willfully restrains or confines another person. This is a Class C Felony, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in jail and a fine of $10,000.00.

The penalties for kidnapping in Washington reflect the gravity of the crime and aim to protect the safety and well-being of the community. Upon conviction, individuals found guilty of kidnapping may also face:

Long-Term Legal Consequences: A kidnapping conviction can have far-reaching legal ramifications, affecting future employment prospects, housing opportunities, and personal relationships. It may also lead to the loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to bear arms.

Impact on Child Custody: In cases of parental kidnapping, the court may modify child custody arrangements, placing greater restrictions or supervision on the offending parent. The child’s best interests will always be a top priority in these situations.

Seeking Legal Assistance

If you or someone you know is facing kidnapping charges in Washington, it is crucial to seek the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney. An experienced legal professional can provide guidance, protect your rights, and build a strong defense strategy tailored to your specific case.

How We Can Help

Kidnapping is a deeply distressing crime that has significant consequences under Washington state law. By understanding the laws and potential consequences associated with this offense, you can learn how to effectively protect your rights and understand what your circumstances look like. No matter how bleak your situation may be, it is always imperative to retain an attorney if you are facing any type of criminal charge to ensure a fair legal process. The attorneys at the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer hold a lot of experience and knowledge that will be put to use to defend you to the fullest extent of the law, building a quality defense for you.

Call the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer today at (360) 334-6277 and schedule a free consultation with one of our highly skilled attorneys.