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Argument in Car Was Not ‘Abduction’

The Court of Appeals reverses defen­dant’s conviction for abduction for argu­ing forcibly with his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his son while the two sat in her car after exchanging the son for visita­tion.

The mother’s own testimony cannot support a reasonable inference that she was detained through intimidation. There is no evidence that she remained in her car because she feared defendant would harm her. The mother never claimed she was concerned that defendant might try to hurt her if she attempted to leave. She expressly testified that she “was not scared of him” during their argument. The closest she came to expressing any apprehension of bodily harm was her speculation that an escalating argument might have devolved into her initiation of a physical fight. The concern she ex­pressed was not that she could have been injured but that such a public fight would be embarrassing. Her concern about a po­tentially embarrassing public fight does not amount to a fear of bodily harm that was induced by defendant’s domination and that overbore her will.

The commonwealth cites speculation about a past history of domestic violence in the couple’s relationship. The difficul­ty is that the mother testified only about her willingness to use violence against defendant. She admitted hitting him to­wards the end of their argument and ac­knowledged that he did not hit her back. She never testified that she feared defen­dant would harm their son. She also ex­plained repeatedly that she remained in the car because she did not want to cause a scene, not because she feared defendant would become violent.

Abduction conviction reversed and dis­missed.

Lunceford v. Commonwealth (Mal­veaux) No. 1234-15-1, Oct. 25, 2016; Ches­apeake Cir.Ct. (Lowe) Terence P. Martin, Sr. APD, for appellant; Stephen L. Foster, AAG, for appellee. VLW 016-7-250(UP), 7 pp.

VLW 016-7-250