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Washington Kidnapping Laws

While each state has its own legal definition of kidnapping, it's generally defined as taking a person against their will. Kidnapping is usually classified as a felony in most jurisdictions, including Washington. Washington also has laws addressing "custodial interference," which apply to a relative or parent of a child. Although custodial interference is not treated as seriously as kidnapping, a conviction can still result in imprisonment.

Custodial Interference

In Washington, custodial interference occurs if a relative, parent, or another person under the direction of a parent takes, detains, or conceals a child from the person or agency that has lawful physical custody. Depending on the specific circumstances, a person can commit custodial interference in the first degree or the second degree. First degree custodial interference is a Class C felony while the charges for second degree custodial interference depend on whether it's a first offense (gross misdemeanor) or a subsequent offense (Class C felony).

Washington Kidnapping Laws Overview

When you have a question about the law, an important source of information is the actual statute itself. But statutes are usually written in "legalese," which can take time to interpret and understand. For this reason, it can be helpful to also read an overview of the statute in plain English. Below you'll find a chart summarizing Washington kidnapping laws as well as links to relevant statutes.


Washington Revised Code:


First Degree Kidnapping: abducting a person with intent to:

  • Hold them for ransom, or as a shield or hostage;
  • Facilitate the commission of a felony or escape after committing a felony;
  • Inflict bodily injury on them;
  • Inflict extreme mental distress on them or on another person; or
  • Interfere with a governmental function.

Second Degree Kidnapping: intentionally abducting a person under circumstances that don't fall under first degree kidnapping.

Charges and Penalties

First Degree Kidnapping is a Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison and/or a fine up to $50,000.

Second Degree Kidnapping is Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $20,000. However, if there's a finding of sexual motivation, then it's a Class A felony.

Related Statute(s)

Washington Revised Code:

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.

Washington Kidnapping Laws: Related Resources

For more information and resources related to this topic, please click on the links below.

Charged with Kidnapping in Washington? Get in Touch with an Attorney

As you can see, kidnapping is a serious crime in Washington. A conviction can not only land you in prison but it can also have a lasting negative impact on all aspects of your life. If you've been charged with kidnapping or custodial interference in Washington, it's in your best interest to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can inform you of your options and advocate on your behalf.

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