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Virginia Kidnapping Laws

In Virginia, "abduction" and "kidnapping" are used interchangeably to refer to one of the most serious crimes in the state. The offense occurs when an individual (by force, intimidation, or deception and without justification) takes, transports, or detains another person with the intent to:

  • Deprive the other person of their personal liberty;
  • Withhold or conceal them from another person, authority, or institution; or
  • Subject them to forced labor or services.

Intimidation Definition

Under the Virginia statute, intimidation includes the following:

  • Destroying;
  • Concealing;
  • Confiscating;
  • Withholding or threatening to withhold a passport, immigration documents, or other governmental ID; or
  • Threatening to report someone's illegal presence in the U.S.

Virginia Kidnapping Laws at a Glance

Understanding the exact components of any statute is critical: It's a task best left to a trained attorney, but a non-lawyer can obtain important information by referencing a "plain English" guide to the statutes. See the chart below for an overview of Virginia's kidnapping laws.


Abduction Charges

Abduction (generally):

  • Not applicable to any law-enforcement officer in performance of their duties.

Abduction with the intent to commit extortion or for an immoral purpose: When an individual abducts a person under the following circumstances:

  • With the intent to extort money or pecuniary benefit:
  • With the intent to defile the person:
  • For the purposes of prostitution and the victim is less than 16 years old;
  • For the purposes of prostitution, regardless of victim's age; or
  • Any minor for the purposes of manufacturing child pornography.

Threatening/attempting/assisting in such abduction:

Anyone who threatens, attempts, or assists with an abduction with intent to extort or for an illegal purpose can be charged with this offense.

Possible Penalties

Under the felony-murder rule, if a killing occurs during the kidnapping, the defendant can be charged with first degree murder (punishable by a prison term of 20 years to life).

Unless stated otherwise, an abduction charge is penalized as a Class 5 felony; class 5 felonies carry a prison term of 1-10 years. With the jury or court's discretion: not more than 12 months in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500.

Abduction (generally):

  • If committed by the parent of the abducted person and punishable as contempt of court in any pending proceeding, then the offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, in addition to contempt of court.
  • If committed by the parent of the abducted person and punishable as contempt of court in any pending proceeding and the abducted person is removed from the state by the abducting parent, then the offense is a Class 6 felony, in addition to contempt of court.

Abduction with the intent to commit extortion or for an immoral purpose (Class 2 felony):

  • If the sentence includes a term of confinement less than life imprisonment, the judge shall impose, in addition to any active sentence, a suspended sentence of no less than 40 years.
  • This suspended sentence is suspended for the remainder of the defendant&'s life subject to revocation by the court.

Possible Defenses

  • Consent
  • Duress
  • Mistake of fact

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.

Virginia Kidnapping Laws: Related Resources

If You're Facing Abduction Charges, Connect with an Attorney

If you're convicted of violating any of Virginia's kidnapping laws, you could face time behind bars, costly fines, or both. Connect immediately with a local criminal defense attorney who can work toward getting your case resolved in the best way possible.

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