5-Year-Old Girl Kidnapped; Mom Rams Suspect's Car

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By Betty Wang, JD on May 16, 2013 1:38 PM

After her daughter was allegedly kidnapped, a mom chased after the suspect and rammed her car into his. Could the mom face any charges for her heroic actions?

The alleged abduction, chase, and crash happened Wednesday night in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The 5-year-old girl was apparently playing outside her apartment when a man shoved her into his car. Witnesses told the girl's mom, who rammed the suspect's car after a 7-mile pursuit, KRQE-TV reports.

The man ran off and still hasn't been caught, but mother and daughter are safe. So what does the law say about their ordeal?

To Catch an Alleged Criminal

The mom's drastic action -- chasing after and ramming the suspect's car -- was of course triggered by her daughter's alleged kidnapping.

A kidnapping is defined as the taking of a person from one place to another against his or her will. It's a serious felony that can lead to a lengthy prison sentence. While the 5-year-old girl was eventually rescued by her mom, the act of transporting the girl against her will for 7 miles likely fulfills the elements of this crime.

Once the suspect is caught, he'll also likely face charges of false imprisonment. Just like it sounds, false imprisonment usually requires the intentional restriction of another person's will without her consent. Examples of this are if a person was backed into a corner of a room or if the victim was purposely locked in another's car.

Making a Citizen's Arrest

While arrests are generally made by police officers, certain situations allow for private citizens to also make "arrests." A citizen can arrest someone if they reasonably suspect a felony is being committed, or has been committed.

There are limits, however. For example, a citizen's arrest must be made with "reasonable force" -- in other words, the amount or level of force used in the arrest must be necessary and justified by the alleged criminal's acts.

Given that kidnapping is a felony, and that the mom rammed the suspect's car in an effort to stop her daughter's abduction, this courageous citizen mom seems to have made a proper citizen's arrest, and will likely not face any charges herself. That certainly can't be said for the alleged kidnapper, however, once he's caught.

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