Federal Kidnapping Act


Federal Kidnapping Act (18 U.S.C. § 1201) is also known as the Lindbergh Law, or Little Lindbergh Law.  Since state and local law enforcement officers could not effectively pursue kidnappers across state lines, the Federal Kidnapping Act was enacted to let federal authorities step in and pursue kidnappers once they had crossed state lines with their victim.  The act was enacted following the historic Lindbergh kidnapping, the abduction and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s toddler son.

The Act provides that if the victim is not released within twenty-four hours after being kidnapped, there is a rebuttable presumption that he or she has been transported in interstate or foreign commerce.  Federal Kidnapping Act authorizes the jury to recommend death penalty.  “Provided that the kidnapped person has been liberated unharmed”.  Federal Kidnapping Act was the first statute to include “liberated unharmed”.  The statute does not define the word unharmed.  Generally the courts concedes some injuries as strifle in nature to preclude death penalty.  A provision of the law provides exception for parents who abduct their own minor children.