How to Finally Get Some Work Done: Kidnap a Handyman

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I guess it was more the false imprisonment that got the work done. The kidnapping per se didn't happen until the end of his "shift."

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a couple in Santa Clara (south of SF) was arrested this week "on suspicion of kidnapping and assaulting a San Jose handyman, holding him hostage for eight hours and forcing him to do home repairs before he finally escaped." The handyman had repaired a water heater in October, but had never been paid for his labor. This led to a "back-and-forth exchange" over the dispute that was not resolved until last week.

The handyman thought it was going to be resolved by another visit to the home, where he would be paid the money he was owed and also get the opportunity to do some additional repair work. That's what the couple told him. And I guess he did get the opportunity to do some additional repair work, but he did not get paid. Instead, he got punched in the face. The couple did not brandish any weapons but threatened to kill him unless he complied with their repair demands.

I assume this means they thought he had overcharged them for labor, and were just trying to get their money's worth.

The couple forced the man to repair their dishwasher, fix a broken door and do "other household work" during what was apparently a seven-hour ordeal. There may have been a lot to do, because one report states that the couple lives in a "sprawling" five-bedroom home that includes a pool, tennis courts, and a beach-volleyball court, making it especially odd that they went to the dark side over the cost of a water-heater repair. But even then they weren't satisfied, and ordered him to drive them over to a relative's house where he would be doing additional work.

Unfortunately for them, they decided to stop for gas and snacks at a nearby Chevron station, and after instructing the handyman to wait in the van, they both went inside. Strangely enough, he chose to disobey these instructions, and ran to a nearby house where he called police. They seem to have arrived pretty quickly, because according to one report "[o]fficers arrived at the Chevron to find [the couple] still in the snack aisle."

The couple has been charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, carjacking, criminal threats, conspiracy and assault with a deadly weapon. That last one is not going to stick, because these people did not have any weapons and as I've mentioned before, unless you are Chuck Norris your hands are not "weapons." Punching someone is certainly assault (and battery), but it isn't assault with a weapon, deadly or otherwise. It just isn't, and while I still don't understand why it took the Ninth Circuit nine pages to address that issue, it did agree with me in the end.

The other charges seem legit. My only issue there (see first sentence above) was the difference between "false imprisonment" and "kidnapping" and when each took place. California's kidnapping statute is plagued by the Legislature's love of run-on sentences, but that offense appears to require transporting the victim somewhere, so again I think the kidnapping per se did not begin until they got in the van.

It ended, of course, when they went to buy snacks.