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The Law on Kidnapping/Abduction and its Punishments in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania State, kidnapping and abduction are crimes and subject to criminal law. A person executes these crimes in the following ways:

  • Kidnapping takes place when the person “unlawfully” takes away a person over a substantial distance from the location where the victim is found. Whether the victim has been taken away a significant distance will be determined on the specifics of the case. However, this requirement is met when the distance puts the victim in seclusion and puts him/her in the risk of harm.
  • A person can also be convicted of kidnapping if he or she illegally confines another person in an isolated location for a significant period of time. Similar to determining “significant distance”, “significant period” is subject to individual scrutiny. It will also depend on the victim’s mental state.
  • A person illegally confines and takes another person away using deception, threat, or force and or without the permission of the guardian/parent or another responsible person who is in charge of the victim’s welfare, when the victim is under age 14 or is a disabled person.

In Pennsylvania, it is possible for the parent to be convicted of kidnapping/abducting his or her own child. In most states, this is not recognized as a conviction.

Pennsylvania Abduction Law
What is Pennsylvania State’s Law on Kidnapping and Abduction?

Pennsylvania’s kidnapping/abduction laws are addressed under Section 18-2901. To be convicted of kidnapping or abduction, the defendant had the objective to:

  • Keep the victim for a reward/ransom or use as a hostage or shield;
  • Expedite the commission of flight or a felony;
  • Inflict bodily harm or threaten the victim or another person;
  • Cause interference with a public authority’s performance of any government-related function.

What is the Punishment for Kidnapping or Abduction in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, kidnapping and abduction are classified as felonies in the degree. If convicted, it is punishable with a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $25,000 or a higher figure than doubles the defendant’s profit from committing the crime.

If the kidnapping results in bodily harm or personal injury to the victim, the court will order the accused to make a complete reimbursement to the victim, irrespective of the defendant’s financial capacity. In such circumstances, the court will dictate the method and amount of restitution during the sentencing after considering the extent of the injury experienced by the victim. The victim may also present a request for compensation to the district attorney.

Pennsylvania  Kidnap Law

First Degree Kidnapping

When the victim is confined or removed using deception, threat or force or in the case of a disabled person the victim was removed without the consent of his/her primary caregiver who is responsible for his/her welfare.

If convicted, the defendant can face a prison term of up to twenty years and fines of up to $25,000. He or she may have to make restitution towards the victim.

Second Degree Kidnapping

The kidnapper is not related to the child but acted with the information that his or her behavior would lead to serious fear for the security of the under-aged individual.

If convicted, the kidnapper can face a prison term of up to ten years with fines of up to $25,000.

Third Degree Kidnapping

A person who is not a family member or an intermediary of the victim held for a payoff, who intentionally retains, accepts or dispenses any property or money of another person knowing that this property/money is a ransom obtained for committing the offense listed in this statute.

If convicted, the defendant may face a prison term of up to seven years and fines of up to $15,000.


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