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Arizona Kidnapping Laws

The crime of kidnapping conjures images of Hollywood thrillers portraying elaborate abductions and high value ransom demands. In reality, a kidnapping is often an unplanned crime that occurs during the heat of the moment. The defendant many not even be aware they are breaking the law at the time of the offense.

In Arizona, a person commits a kidnapping when they purposefully restrain the movements of another person and cause that other person fear of immediate physical harm, or any of the other factors listed in the law. An attempt to move or hide the victim is not a necessary part of this crime. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the unique aspects of Arizona kidnapping laws.

Elements of a Kidnapping Charges in Arizona

As with any criminal charge, the accused is presumed innocent until otherwise proven in a court of law. For a guilty verdict he state must convince a jury that each of the following elements are true beyond a reasonable doubt for a finding of guilt:

  1. Knowingly: Consciously or with knowledge of their actions.
  2. Physical restraint of another person: Action which restricts free movement
  3. Intent: Knowledge of wrongdoing.
  4. Victim has a reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury: Arizona criminal code lists several actions which when performed in conjunction with physically restraining a victim may constitute kidnapping. See list in the chart below.

Penalty Enhancements and Sentences

Any form of kidnapping in Arizona is charged as a felony. Depending on the circumstances, the charges ranges from a Class 4 to a Class 2 felony. All kidnapping sentences are set to run consecutively – not concurrently – with the sentencing for any other crime.

The least serious charge is Class 4, which carries a penalty of 18 to 45 months in prison. Class 4 is reserved for an accused who voluntarily releases their victim to a place that is safe before committing any other illegal acts, and before they are arrested.

Class 3 felony kidnapping charge result when the victim is released, unharmed as the result of negotiations with government officials. This “class” carries a prison sentence of at least 2.5 years, but no more than 7 years.

The most serious charge is Class 2 felony kidnapping, which is punishable by a minimum of 4 years in prison, to a maximum of life. It is applied in two situations:

  • Defendant refuses to release the victim until they are arrested, and the victim was physical injured and/or another criminal act was committed.
  • The kidnapping victim is 15 years old or younger.

Overview of Arizona Kidnapping Laws

The following chart outlines some general information about Arizona kidnapping laws, including information about aggravated kidnapping, kidnapping defenses, and penalties for kidnapping convictions:

Arizona Statutes

Statutory Definition

A person commits kidnapping by knowingly restraining another person with the intent to:

    • Hold the victim for ransom, as a shield or hostage
    • Hold the victim for involuntary servitude
    • Inflict death, physical injury or a sexual offense on victim
    • Create fear of immediate bodily harm
    • Unlawfully take control of a vehicle, air plane, water craft, bus, train or other form of public transportation

Penalties and Sentences

If victim is voluntarily released without physical injury before Defendant’s arrest, and before committing any other offense:

  • Class 4 Felony:
    • Up to 3.75 years in prison
    • 4 years of probation
    • Fine of $150,000

If victim is released as part of a negotiation with the government, but without physical injury, charges may be lowered to:

  • Class 3 Felony:
    • Between 5 and 15 years in prison
    • Up to 5 years of probation
    • Fine of $150,000

If victim is NOT voluntarily released before Defendant’s arrest, or victim is under 15 years old:

  • Class 2 Felony:
    • 7 to 21 years in prison if no aggravating circumstances
    • 7 years of probation
    • Fine of $150,000


  • Consent to be moved or accompany the defendant
  • Lack of intent
  • Mistake
  • Insanity

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. It’s important to verify the laws you’re researching by conducting your own research or consulting with a qualified Arizona criminal defense attorney.

Arizona Criminal Law and Related Resources

Charged with Kidnapping In Arizona? Get in Touch with a Lawyer

Due to the serious nature of the offense, the penalties for kidnapping are severe. There's often a fine line between guilt and innocence with a charge of kidnapping. That’s why you need someone on your side who can speak to the facts and explain the events from your perspective. Contact a criminal defense attorney in Arizona who will be your advocate and work to ensure the law is properly applied in your case.

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