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New Jersey Kidnapping Laws

Kidnapping is an extremely serious crime that is committed for various motives. For instance, some kidnapers commit the crime in conjunction with other illegal activities such as extortion, trafficking, or sexual assault. In New Jersey, kidnapping is defined as unlawfully removing another person from a place of residence, business, or a substantial distance from the location where they were found; or holding a person for ransom, reward, or as a shield or hostage.

Confining Individuals for Unlawful Purposes

New Jersey law prohibits confining another individual for any of the following reasons:

  • To facilitate commission of any crime or flight after;
  • To inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another;
  • To interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function; or
  • To permanently deprive a parent, guardian, or other lawful custodian of custody of the victim.

Degrees of Kidnapping

Kidnapping in New Jersey is a crime in the first degree unless the actor releases the unharmed victim to a safe place prior to being arrested; in that case, the offense is a second degree crime.

New Jersey Kidnapping Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of statutes related to New Jersey's kidnapping laws, including links to important code sections.


  • New Jersey Statutes 2C: 13-1 (Kidnapping)

Possible Penalties

First Degree Kidnapping: This offense is punishable by imprisonment of 15 to 30 years. If the victim is less than 16 years old or where there are aggravating factors (such as sexual assault or selling or delivering the victim for financial gain), the penalty is a prison term of 25 years to life, with or without the possibility of parole after 25 years.

Second Degree Kidnapping: This offense is punishable by 5-10 years in prison.

Note: If murder occurs during the kidnapping, the defendant can be charged with first degree murder under the felony-murder rule.

Possible Defenses

  • Consent
  • Duress
  • Mistake of fact
  • Insanity
  • Affirmative defense: If the actor reasonably believed that the action was necessary to prevent immediate danger to the victim's welfare, then this defense may be available provided that the actor gives reasonable notice to the authorities.

Related Offenses

  • Murder: New Jersey Statutes 2C:11-3
  • Sexual Assault: New Jersey Statutes 2C:14-2
  • Endangering Welfare of Children: New Jersey Statutes 2C: 24-4

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. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

New Jersey Kidnapping Laws: Related Resources

Discuss Kidnapping Charges with an Experienced New Jersey Attorney

Because kidnapping is a potentially dangerous crime with a high risk of harm to the victim, the penalties are severe. If you're convicted, you could spend a significant time behind bars. Any time incarceration is a possibility, it's in your best interests to consult with a lawyer who can prepare a skilled defense on your behalf. Contact a New Jersey criminal defense attorney today to learn more.

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