Kidnapping v. False Imprisonment


Kidnapping occurs when a person, without lawful authority, physically moves another person without that other person’s consent, with the intent to use the abduction in connection with some other nefarious objective.  Kidnapping may be done for ransom or political purpose or other purposes.  Kidnapping can be of first degree or second degree.   Kidnapping is a crime which is punishable upon successful prosecution.

False imprisonment, on the other hand,  gives rise to a civil claim for damages.  False imprisonment means the illegal confinement of one individual without his or her consent by another individual in such a manner as to violate the confined individual’s right to be free from restraint of movement.

Compared with kidnapping, false imprisonment can be a relatively inoffensive, harmless restraint of another person.  It is usually a misdemeanor, punishable by no more than an year in jail.  An individual whose conduct constitutes the tort of false imprisonment might also be charged with committing the crime of kidnapping, since the same pattern of conduct may provide grounds for both.  However, kidnapping may require that other facts be shown, such as the removal of the victim from one place to another.

An individual alleging false imprisonment may sue for damages for the interference with her or his right to move freely.  Damages can be nominal or punitive.