Wednesday, November 04, 2009

People v. Reyes (Cal. Ct. App. - Oct. 30, 2009)

It's funny. As I was reading this case, which involves a kidnapping for ransom, I was thinking to myself the whole time: "I hope these guys get a huge amount of time in prison." Because what they did -- while not the worst kidnapping in the world (by far) -- still seemed totally brazen and wrong.

And yet despite that fact, when I got to the end of the opinion and discovered that the sentence was a mandatory one -- life in prison -- that seemed harsh to me. Especially since two of the four (equally culpable) kidnappers, as a result of a guilty plea, only got eight years, and another one of the kidnappers (who agreed to testify) only got one year in prison. That seems wrong on both ends; I'd have been happier if the co-conspirators had to spend more time in prison and this guy slightly less.

I say all this, by the way, even though I'm extremely -- and some might say overly -- concerned about the ease of kidnapping. It seems like a very lucrative (and relatively easy) crime, at least as compared to your traditional drug dealing, bank robbery, etc. Which is why you've started to see a huge rise in this stuff in other nations (e.g., Mexico). So I do think we need to be incredibly careful here, and also super-deter this stuff lest it become more common. And yet in a particular case, in which no one is truly injured, it looks like my sentiment in this regard becomes fuzzy and not very hard core. Interesting.

Parenthetically, I must admit that I thought the way they kidnapped the guy here was fairly creative. It first looks like the kidnappers are pulling the usual "black van" job (though here the van is white), which pulls up alongside the victim in a shopping mall parking lot and the kidnappers try to push him in it. But that doesn't work: the victim struggles and breaks free, screaming for assistance. At which point a silver Honda pulls alongside and offers the victim help, and the victim jumps into the car through an open back window, and the Honda speeds away. Escape!

Except the Honda's in on it. That's the second group of kidnappers. Oopsies.