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The Different Degrees Of Kidnapping In Pennsylvania

July 08, 2021

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

The Pennsylvania police have been searching for a man accused of kidnapping and rape since the beginning of May. It was at that time that the man visited the home of a woman he met on a dating site. After she answered the door, he told her to get into his car or he would hurt her children. Police eventually found him driving out of state, and his kidnapping victim was in the passenger seat. The man now faces charges of first-degree kidnapping, assault on a police officer, and being a fugitive from justice.

The story sheds light on the fact that, despite the name of the offense, kidnapping does not necessarily have to involve a child. Additionally, it also highlights the interesting fact that in Pennsylvania, the offense is separated into different degrees.

What is Kidnapping in Pennsylvania?

According to the kidnapping statute, which is found in Pennsylvania’s Consolidated Statutes, Title 18, Chapter 29, kidnapping is defined as illegally removing another person a significant distance under the circumstances from the place where the victim is found. A person also commits the act of kidnapping if they illegally confine a person for a significant period of time with the following intentions:

  • To use for ransom, reward, a shield, or a hostage
  • To facilitate the commission of a felony, or flight afterwards
  • To terrorize the victim or another person,
  • To inflict bodily injury
  • To interfere with the job of public officials, political function, or with the government

Knowing the broader definition of kidnapping in Pennsylvania, it is then easier to understand the different degrees of the offense.

Degrees of Kidnapping in Pennsylvania

Kidnapping is separated into three different degrees in Pennsylvania. The definitions of the degrees are as follows:

  • First degree kidnapping: To confine or remove another person by force, deception, or threat. In the case the person is incapacitated, to remove without the consent of a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for supervising the victim. First degree kidnapping can also involve removing or confining another person under the age of 14 without the consent of their parents, guardian, or other person responsible for supervising the victim.
  • Second degree kidnapping: Taking a child without being a parent, guardian, or supervisor of the child knowing the act would cause serious alarm for the child’s well-being, or acting with reckless disregard that the actions would cause this serious alarm.
  • Third degree kidnapping: This degree of kidnapping means to hold a person for ransom, that is not a family member or an intermediary of the family, or receiving, retaining, or disposing of any money or other property that constitutes a ransom.

Regardless of the degree of kidnapping for which a person is charged, the offense is a serious one.

Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Pennsylvania Can Help with Your Charges

If you have been charged with kidnapping, do not talk to the police before speaking with us. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can defend against your charges. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.


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