Virginia Kidnapping/Abduction Laws


Virginia law, Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-47, uses the terms abduction and kidnapping synonymously.  A person commits the crime of abduction if s/he by force, intimidation or deception, and without legal justification or excuse, seizes, takes, transports, detains or secretes another person with the intent to:

  • deprive such person of his personal liberty, or
  • withhold or conceal him from any person, authority or institution lawfully entitled to his charge, or
  • subject him to forced labor or services.

According to Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-47, the provisions shall not apply to any law-enforcement officer in the performance of his duty.

The essential elements of kidnapping are unlawful seizure and holding.[i]

As per Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-47, abduction generally is a class five felony. However if abduction is committed by the parent of the person abducted and punishable as contempt of court, the offense shall be a class one misdemeanor in addition to being punishable as contempt of court.  If the abduction is done by parent and the parent removes the abducted person from Virginia, then it will be a class six felony.  As per Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-48, abduction with the intent to extort money or abducting a child under sixteen years of age for the purpose of concubinage or prostitution shall be a Class two felony.  Under Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-48.1, if a prisoner abducts a person, that prisoner will be guilty of class three felony.  As per Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-49 if a person threatens or attempts to abduct another person with the intent to extort money or abduct a female under sixteen years of age for the purpose of concubinage or prostitution, shall be guilty of a class five felony.

As per Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-50 as soon it is brought to the attention of family members of the abducted person they should report immediately to the police or other law-enforcement officers of the county.  If not reported then he is guilty of class two misdemeanors.

The statute, Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-10 provides for punishment.  Punishment for class two felonies is imprisonment for life or any term not less than 20 years and, a fine of not more than $ 100,000.  Punishment for class three felonies is imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than 20 years and, a fine of not more than $ 100,000.  Punishment for class five felonies is imprisonment for not less than one year and not more than ten years or in the discretion of the jury, confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $ 2,500.  Punishment for class six felonies is imprisonment for not less than one year and not more than five years and a fine of not more than $ 2,500.  According to the statute, Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-11, the punishment for class one misdemeanors is confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $ 2,500, either or both.  Punishment for class two misdemeanors is confinement in jail for not more than six months and a fine of not more than $ 1,000.

The Virginia department of criminal justice services has law enforcement and criminal justice specialists serving Virginia and local law enforcement agencies.

Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services


[i] United States v. Lentz, 275 F. Supp. 2d 723 (E.D. Va. 2003)