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The Law on Kidnapping/Abduction and its Punishments in Virginia

Many high profile criminal cases in history have been those surrounding kidnapping and abduction. Most kidnapping/abduction cases occur when a parent has taken a child during a custody dispute from the other parent. Family law arguments can be a point of high stress for both parties; to the point where one parent has simply ‘had enough’ and takes away the child. Many of us can feel sympathy for the kidnapping parent in this situation, unfortunately, the law in Virginia will not look favorably at this parent.

On a similar note, if you are charged with kidnapping someone else’s child, you will be rendered a harsher punishment under Virginia criminal statutes.

In Virginia, the terms “kidnapping” and “abduction” are regarded as the same to refer to one of the most acute crimes in this state. This offense is committed when a person uses intimidation, deception or force without any justification to transport, detain or take another person with the intention of:

  • Depriving the victim of their personal freedom;
  • Concealing or withholding them from an institution, authority or another person; or
  • Subjecting the victim to forced labor or services.
Virginia Abduction Law

What are the Kidnapping/Abduction Laws in Virginia?

The Virginia Statutes that address kidnapping and abduction are:

- Va. Code Ann. 18.2-47

- Va. Code Ann. 18.2-48, 18.2-48.1

- Va. Code Ann. 18.2-10

Kidnapping and abduction are class 5 felonies. However, if either is committed by a parent of the abducted individual, then the person is held in contempt of court and is subject to a class 1 misdemeanor charge.

If the abduction is committed by the parent and he or she removes the victim from the state, then the parent will be convicted with a class 6 felony.

Abduction with the intent to abduct a minor under 16 years of age for the purposes of prostitution or concubinage or extort money is a class 2 felony.

Virginia Kidnap Law
If a prisoner abducts an individual, that prisoner will be convicted of a class 3 felony.

If a person attempts to or threatens to abduct another individual with the intention of extorting money or abducting a female minor less than 16 years of age for the purposes of prostitution or concubinage will be convicted of a class 5 felony.

As soon as the family members of the victim are informed about the abduction of their family member, they are required to report it immediately to law enforcement officers of their county. If this is not reported, they will be convicted of a class 2 misdemeanor.

Punishment for Kidnapping or Abducting a Person in Virginia

Virginia’s felony-murder rule states that if the killing of the victim occurs after the kidnapping, the accused will be charged with murder in the first degree. This is punishable with a 20 year to a life prison term.

For a class 5 felony to carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years and or a fine of $2,500.

For a class 1 misdemeanor, you will be punished as contempt of court. This carries a sentence of up to 12 months in jail and or a fine of up to $2,500.

For a class 2 felony, the prison term is 20 years to life with a fine of up to $100,000.

For a class 3 felony, the prison term is 5 to 20 years with a fine of up to $100,000.

For a class 6 felony, the prison term is 1 to 5 years with a fine of up to $2,500.

For a class 2 misdemeanor, the punishment is a prison term of up to 6 months with a fine of up to $1,000.


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