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Virginia abduction law bars blocking one’s departure

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Virginia abduction law is humorless, even barring a brief intentional blocking of one’s exit or departure, says Fairfax criminal lawyer

Virginia abduction law (VA law) underlines how humorless is the commonwealth’s body of criminal law. As a Fairfax crininal lawyer, I know that a judge will not have any sympathy with any argument that the commonly understood meaning of abduction is forcibly bringing a person from point A to point B. The judge’s response will be you do the crime, you do the time (and get the conviction, particularly seeing that the VA statute says: “Any person who, by force, intimidation or deception, and without legal justification or excuse, seizes, takes, transports, detains or secretes another person with the intent to deprive such other person of his personal liberty or to withhold or conceal him from any person, authority or institution lawfully entitled to his charge, shall be deemed guilty of ‘abduction.'” Virginia Code § 18.2-47(A). Abduction generally is a Class 5 felony, punishable up to ten years in prison. Va. Code § 18.2-47(C).

Is a Virginia abduction offense committed by blocking a person’s path with the defendant’s body or automobile?

Virginia abduction can be committed even by blocking a person’s path of exit, by using the defendant’s body or automobile — even if the alleged victim ultimately finds a way out — if the elements exist of blocking by “force, intimidation or deception” together with “intent to deprive such other person of his personal liberty.” This is so, for instance, even if a person thinks someone has trespassed on their property, and blocks their car with the defendant’s car when getting away, because the law does not allow a so-called citizen’s arrest under such circumstances. Brown v. Commonwealth of Virginia, ___ Va. App. ___ (May 10, 2022).

If someone commits a legal trespass against me, may I use self help to address that?

In his Virginia abduction trial, Brown testified to using self help to block in the woman who drove onto his property, which she claimed to have done for purposes of municipal code enforcement. Brown rejects any legal validity to his claim that he blocked the other vehicle becuase its driver drove onto his property. No exigency existed to have precluded Brown from simply calling police, had he wanted. If you want to take action against someone for violating your legal rights, ideally you will have a qualified lawyer assisting you.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan Katz pursues your best defense against Virginia DUI, misdemeanor and felony prosecutions. One visit with Jon Katz will show you of the great defense he can deliver for you. Call 703-383-1100 for a free initial in-person consultation with Jon about your court-pending case.