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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Virginia Abduction, Kidnapping, and Hostage Defense

Virginia Abduction, Kidnapping, and Hostage Defense


In 2015, there were 1,299 kidnappings, abductions, and hostage situations, involving 1,484 victims, according to the Uniform Reporting Crime Section. Legally, kidnapping and abduction are the same. Abduction/kidnapping is a serious felony in Virginia, and can also be punished as a federal crime. Similarly, taking a hostage falls under Virginia’s abduction and kidnapping statute § 18.2-47. If you have been charged with abduction, it is important to seek the help of an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney at once.

By Force, Intimidation, or Deception

Abduction is defined as using force, intimidation, or deception, without legal justification or excuse, to seize, take, transport, detain, or secrete another person with the intent to:

  • Deprive them of their personal liberty;
  • Withhold or conceal them from any person, authority, or institution lawfully entitled to their charge; or
  • Subject them to forced labor or services.

Abduction is a Class 5 felony in Virginia, punishable by a minimum of one year, and up to 10 years, in prison. The use of a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, or serious bodily injury will all dramatically increase the felony charge and period of incarceration.

Definition of Intimidation

Intimidation includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Destroying;
  • Concealing;
  • Confiscating;
  • Withholding; or
  • Threatening to withhold a passport, immigration document, or government ID, as well as threatening to report another as an illegal alien.

Legal Justification or Excuse

Obviously, there are exceptions to the use of force or deception in special or obvious circumstances. Forcing one’s own young child to go to their room for punishment, or insisting that an older family member who suffers from dementia to seek needed and immediate medical attention, are two examples of when it would be perfectly okay to use a degree of force or deception. The key is legal justification or excuse. Was the action legally justifiable? Sometimes, this is up for debate.

Law Enforcement Officers

Virginia’s kidnapping and abduction statute exempts law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties.

Parents Abducting their Own Child

In most cases, kidnappings are carried out by a child’s own parent. After divorce or separation, the court will create a parenting plan in which custody and visitation rights are well defined, and are bound by law. Violating the parenting plan and abducting one’s own child is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500. However, if the child was unlawfully taken out of the state, the offense is upgraded to a Class 6 felony, punishable by one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of the court, up to 12 months in prison.

Call a Leesburg, Virginia Abduction Defense Attorney Today

Abduction, kidnapping, and taking a hostage are serious crimes in Virginia. If you are under investigation for committing any of these offenses, or have been arrested for committing any of these offenses, do not hesitate to contact the Leesburg, Virginia law offices of Simms Showers, LLP today at 703-997-782.



Disclaimer: This legal alert is provided for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice particular to your situation. No recipients of this memo should act or refrain from acting solely on the basis of this memorandum without seeking professional legal counsel. Simms Showers LLP expressly disclaims all liability relating to actions taken or not taken based solely on the content of this memorandum. Please contact Caleb Kershner or Ben Mann at cak@simmsshowerslaw.com, wbm@simmsshowerslaw.com, or (703) 771-4671 for greater details concerning how this information may affect you.

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