Kidnapping and the Crime of Robbery

Florida appellate courts have repeatedly said that simply moving a robbery victim at gunpoint from one room to another, even if a door is closed and the victim is ordered not to come out, does not constitute the crime of kidnapping.

 

For example, in the case of Cole v. State of Florida, Mr. Cole was charged with the crime of armed kidnapping based on the following facts:

 

"[T]he victim and her husband owned a Dollar Store, which Cole had patronized on several occasions. On July 8, 2003, the victim was working in the store when Cole came in to buy some candy. Cole approached the cash register and put money on the counter. When the victim opened the cash register to make change, Cole jumped over the counter and grabbed her by the neck. After a brief struggle, Cole pulled out a handgun. While holding the gun, he took money from the cash register, the victim’s purse, which had been behind the counter, and a DVD player. He also forced the victim to open a file cabinet that was behind the counter, apparently thinking it might contain additional cash. After finding no money in the file cabinet, Cole pointed the gun at the victim and told her to 'get in the bathroom and to stay there.'

 

The victim walked approximately ten feet to the bathroom and closed the door. Cole did not lock the victim in the bathroom and did not block the door. Two to three minutes later, the victim heard a chime that indicated the front door had been opened. At that point, she opened the bathroom door and found that Cole was gone. She then immediately called the police."

 

Florida's Second District Court of Appeal held that Cole's actions of pointing a gun at the victim while telling her to go inside the bathroom and stay there did not rise to the level of a kidnapping for the following reasons:

 

1. Cole's movement of the victim into the bathroom took a very small amount of time;

 

2. This movement occurred at the very end of the robbery;

 

3. It was the type of movement that was likely to naturally accompany a robbery; and

 

4. The confinement of the victim in the bathroom ceased naturally with the robbery.

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