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Illinois Kidnapping Laws

Kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping are serious felonies that carry the potential for long terms of imprisonment under Illinois law. Kidnapping may happen during child custody disputes or during a bitter divorce or break-up when an emotionally distraught parent takes a child without the consent of the other parent.

Kidnapping is a serious crime that can be prosecuted as a felony under state or federal law. When someone is kidnapped and transported across state lines, this can trigger the federal charge. Many times kidnapping charges can overlap with other criminal acts including robbery, sexual assault, rape, battery or even murder.

Here, we will only discuss Illinois law.

What is Kidnapping?

A person is guilty of kidnapping under Illinois law if he or she knowingly confines another person against their will and moves that person by force or threat of force from one place to another.

It doesn't always have to happen through some sort of physical force, however. A person can be kidnapped through fraud, deceit, or enticement as long as the perpetrator intended to secretly confine them against their will.

For example, let's imagine Divorced Dad Dave is angry at his ex-wife, who has full custody of their five-year-old son Skippy. Divorced Dave decides he wants to get back at mom by taking Skippy away with no intention of returning him. Divorced Dave doesn't use any force to get Skippy to go with him. Instead, Dave tells Skippy he wants to "take him to the zoo," but it's a lie. They never end up there. Divorced Dave just wants to "hide" Skippy to exact revenge on his ex-wife.

Consent Defense

What if the kidnapper says the child consented to being taken? That simply won't work. If a child under the age of 13 or someone with severe intellectual disability is moved, they can't legally consent without their parent or legal guardian's permission. In those situations, confinement will always be considered against the victim's will.

Types of Kidnapping

  • Parental Kidnapping
  • Acquaintance Kidnapping
  • Stranger Kidnapping
  • Sexual Predator Kidnapping
  • Human Trafficking
  • Bride Kidnapping
  • Kidnapping for Extortion or Ransom

The following table highlights the main provisions of Illinois's kidnapping laws. See What Legal Remedies are Available if a Parent Abducts a Child, Crimes Against Persons, and Federal International Parental Kidnapping Laws for more information.

Code Section Criminal Codes §720 ILCS 5/10-1, §720 ILCS 5/10-2
Title of Statute Kidnapping, Aggravated Kidnapping
What is Prohibited?

Kidnapping: A person knowingly and secretly confines a victim against his or her will by using force or threat of immediate force and moves that person from place to another OR uses deceit, fraud, or enticement to persuade another to go from one place to another with intent to secretly confine that other person against his or her will.

Aggravated Kidnapping: Same as above but could include any of the following: Holding the victim for ransom, the Victim was under the age of 13 or was severely mentally disabled; Concealing your identity to commit the kidnapping; You are armed with a dangerous weapon, the Victim suffered great bodily harm; or another Felony was committed during the course of the kidnapping.

Type of Crime Kidnapping Class 2 Felony, or Aggravated Kidnapping Class X Felony
Punishment Kidnapping: State Prison Term from 3-7 Years, Aggravated Kidnapping 6-30 Years Prison plus an additional 15-25 Years depending on gravity of the crime, Second Aggravated Kidnapping Conviction Carries a Life Imprisonment Sentence, Up to 25,000 in Fines, Restitution to the Victim
Statute of Limitations 3 Years

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a criminal defense or conduct further legal research to verify the law(s) you are researching.

Don't Delay: Get Legal Help With Your Kidnapping Charges 

If you have been charged with the crime of kidnapping, you better start planning your defense. It's a serious charge with serious penalties, especially when additional crimes or aggravating factors are involved. An experienced Illinois defense attorney will be able to apply the facts of your case to the law and craft a defense strategy on your behalf.

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