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North Carolina Kidnapping Laws

Amber alerts provide pivotal information on missing children; silver alerts are the equivalent notices for missing adults. North Carolina is one of a few states that maintain a clearinghouse for adults that have vanished, in addition to missing children. The North Carolina Center for Missing Persons, the agency that issues the alerts, is an important resource for helping to locate people that have been kidnapped. The state clearly makes catching kidnappers a priority and accordingly punishes perpetrators.

Degrees of Kidnapping

If you illegally confine an individual under the age of 16 or remove the individual from one place to another without their consent or the consent of their parents, then you've committed kidnapping. If you release the individual to a safe place without any incident of serious injury or sexual assault, then the charge is in the second degree. When you don't release the individual in a safe place or serious injury or sexual assault occurs, then the offense is elevated to first degree kidnapping.

North Carolina Kidnapping Laws at a Glance

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

Statutes and Elements of the Crime

  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-39 (Kidnapping)
  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-43-12 (Involuntary servitude)
  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-43-11 (Human trafficking)
  • North Carolina General Statutes 14-43-13 (Sexual servitude)

The confinement can be for the purpose of the following:

  • Holding an individual hostage or for ransom or as a human shield;
  • Enabling the commission of a felony or enabling the flight of any person fleeing after commission of a felony;
  • Committing serious bodily injury to or terrorizing the confined/restrained individual;
  • Holding an individual in involuntary servitude (slavery) or sexual servitude; or
  • Trafficking an individual with the intent to hold another in involuntary servitude or sexual servitude.

Penalties and Sentencing


North Carolina uses a complex sentencing formula; the actual sentence will depend on factors such as prior criminal history.

First degree kidnapping

  • Victim was not released to a safe place or victim was seriously injured or sexually assaulted.
  • Class C felony

Second degree kidnapping

  • Victim released to a safe place; not seriously injured or sexually assaulted.
  • Class E felony

Possible Defenses

  • Consent
  • Mistake
  • Duress

Related Offenses

  • Murder: North Carolina General Statutes 14-17
  • First degree forcible rape: North Carolina General Statutes 14-27-21

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.

North Carolina Kidnapping Laws: Related Resources

Charged with Kidnapping in North Carolina? Find an Attorney

If you've been accused of violating North Carolina's kidnapping laws, then you should acknowledge the seriousness of the charges and consider talking to a criminal defense attorney. An attorney understands how the law relates to your specific case and can assess your options. Take an initial step by contacting a local criminal defense attorney.

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