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Arizona's Vague Kidnapping Statute has Claimed Another Victim

Posted by Unknown | Jun 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

After a 30 second robbery, Arizona resident Matthew Dutra has now also fallen victim to the vague kidnapping laws of this state.

The state of Arizona is known for its vague laws and blurred statutes, often resulting in a person receiving a charge they had not anticipated. The legal experts at the Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp, find it essential to educate the citizens of Arizona on these potentially confusing laws to keep the number of victims as low as possible.

What Happened

Matthew Aaron Dutra entered a sandwich shop on January 1, 2016, with no intention to order a turkey club. Upon entrance, Dutra wielded a stun gun and pointed it at the 16-year-old girl working the shop. The Arizona resident initiated the electric shock from the gun and demanded that the young female give him “the money” that was in the cash register. Upon activation of the stun gun by Dutra, the cashier stepped back from the register but did not run out of the back door that was located directly behind her. She instead opened the cash register, complied with Dutra's commands, and handed him the money – with the entire incident taking approximately a half of a minute.

The man then fled the store before being hit by a car in a nearby street where authorities subdued him. Dutra would go on to be charged with armed robbery, aggravated assault, along with kidnapping. The kidnapping charge would catch Dutra and his Counsel by surprise, and they moved to dismiss the charge – arguing that the court had presented no evidence of kidnapping during his robbery. The court would go on to deny his motion, and due to his eight previous felony convictions, Dutra was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release for 35 years.

 Dutra was shocked to hear he had been charged with kidnapping after his 30-second holdup. However, if he had been made aware of the vague kidnapping statute in the state of Arizona, he might have thought twice before robbing the sandwich shop where, as a result, he now has to spend the rest of his life behind bars ultimately.

Brief Overview of Arizona Kidnapping Statute 

The Arizona statute for kidnapping defines the crime as “knowingly restraining another person with the intent to…aid in the commission of a felony.” The law goes on to define restraint as, “a manner which interferes substantially with such person's liberty…” The statute does not define “substantial restraint” leaving room for interpretation, and creating a murky gray area. The definition does, however, mention that a victim of kidnapping does not need to be physically moved or retrained for a certain amount of time. Therefore, it would not have mattered if Matthew Dutra held up the sandwich shop for 30 seconds or three hours, if the court finds any evidence of the robber “substantially” restraining the 16-year-old cashier from her liberty, that would be enough to convict him with kidnapping. Which is exactly what happened.

The Verdict

Upon being convicted to life in prison, Dutra appealed his conviction and had his case heard at the Arizona Court of Appeals. After reviewing the case once more, the State found that there was evidence to prove that Dutra did substantially restrain the 16-year-old cashier enough to charge him with kidnapping. The stun gun used in the armed robbery kept the employee from leaving the sandwich shop, inhibiting her personal liberty, and holding her hostage for that brief amount of time.

Have You Been Charged with Kidnapping in Arizona?

If you have been unexpectedly charged with kidnapping in Arizona, you are going to need an attorney with experience to defend you against the State. Attorneys at The Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp are prepared to assist their clients as they work for the best possible outcome for you. Call us at (866) 490-HAMP or contact us online today to discuss your case. 

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