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What is the Law on Kidnapping/Abduction in Utah and What are the Punishments for it?

Kidnapping is a crime that involves unlawfully constraining another person without his consent. Kidnapping is considered a serious offense as it can result in severe mental and physical trauma to the victim.

Kidnapping in Utah

The kidnapping is dealt with in Sections 76-5-301 and 76-5-302 of the code of Utah. Under the law of Utah, kidnapping is divided into three types, first-degree kidnapping, child kidnapping, and second-degree kidnapping.

First-Degree Kidnapping in Utah

First-Degree kidnapping is the most serious form of kidnapping in the state of Utah and receives the most serious punishment. A person will be guilty of first-degree kidnapping if he possesses or uses a dangerous weapon while committing the act of kidnapping with the objective of:

  • Holding the victim as a hostage, a human shield, for demanding ransom, or to compel or force a third person from doing or abstaining from doing a particular act
  • Facilitating the commission of a felony, attempted commission, or flight after a felony
  • Hinder the discovery of a felony that can obstruct the delivery of justice
  • Terrorize the victim or inflict any kind of serious bodily injury to the victim
  • Commit a serious sexual offense
  • Interfere in the performance of any government or political duty.
Utah Abduction Law

Punishment for First-Degree Kidnapping in Utah

A person found guilty of first-degree kidnapping is punishable with imprisonment ranging between fifteen years to life. However, before punishing a person for first-degree kidnapping, the prosecution should prove that the victim’s seizure and detention were involuntary. In fact, victim involuntariness is one of the key elements of the crime of kidnapping in the state of Utah.

Second-Degree Kidnapping in Utah

A person will be found guilty of second-degree kidnapping if he intentionally, without legal sanction, and without the consent of the victim:

  • Restrains or detains the victim for a substantial time period
  • Restrains or detains the victim in circumstances that can result in serious bodily injury
  • Restrains the victim in situations similar to involuntary servitude leading to mental trauma
  • Detains a minor without having any legal authority and without taking the consent of the parent or the legal guardian
  • Forcefully moves the victim for a substantial distance across the state borders
Utah Abduction Law

Punishment for Second-Degree Kidnapping in Utah

The crime of kidnapping is investigated by the Department of Public Safety which is responsible for providing a safe and secure environment to the people of the state. A second-degree kidnapping in Utah is punishable by imprisonment for a time period between three and fifteen years. Any bodily injury caused to the victim during the kidnapping is treated as a higher offense.

If the victim receives any serious bodily injury in the course of committing a second-degree kidnapping or if the kidnapper is previously convicted of a serious sexual offense, then the punishment will be life imprisonment without any chance for parole. If the court gives any less serious sentence to the person who committed the crime of second-degree kidnapping, it is obliged by the law for the reasons to give a lesser term.

Child Kidnapping in Utah

Child kidnapping is treated specially in Utah and the perpetrators of this crime receive higher punishment. A person will be found guilty of committing child kidnapping if the knowingly, voluntarily, and without taking the consent of his legal guardian constraints, abducts, or illegally transports a child aged below 14 years age. Any person who intentionally commits the act of kidnapping a child will be punished as if he has committed first-degree kidnapping.


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