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Kidnapping: A serious matter

2 January 2022

Kidnap: The Offence

Kidnap is the forcible and unlawful detention of a person against their will. It is what is known as a "common law offence" which means the requirements to commit this offence come from cases decided in the higher courts. The key part of the offence is that it is an unwanted act on the part of the victim. It is a restriction on someone else's liberty by force and, for this reason, it is a serious charge.

In a kidnap case, expert evidence can be very important. For example, it might be suggested that rope or tape has been used to bind a victim and kidnap solicitors might obtain DNA or fibre analysis reports to disprove the allegation. Kidnap solicitors can also obtain cell site analysis from the use of mobile phones to prove where and when someone was in a particular place. It may be that kidnap solicitors can also obtain CCTV evidence, if available, to back up a client's case. If the police failed to obtain the CCTV evidence then experienced kidnap solicitors may look at having the case thrown out as an abuse of process.

If a kidnap occurs in the context of a sexual offence, then it is the sexual offence that would be charged. The kidnap would become an aggravating feature for sentencing.


Kidnap is dealt with only by the crown court because of its seriousness. Sentences for this type of offence very much depend upon the facts.

If violence or a firearm was used or the victim was held for a long time, then the normal sentence could be over 8 years imprisonment. For example, a plan to take hostage someone's son to get, for example, £5000 in ransom would be along these lines.

For smaller scale kidnaps, then the guideline is a sentence of around 18 months. An example might be in a domestic scenario where someone is locked in a room or taken on a car journey against their will after a row. If someone has been suffering from stress or has a mental illness, kidnap solicitors can often use these as points in mitigation for the client and it must be remembered that anything up to a 2-year sentence is potentially suspendable which would mean the person would not go immediately to prison. If accused of this offence, it would always be advisable to seek free legal advice from kidnap solicitors as a starting point to assess your options.

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