Pennsylvania Kidnapping/Abducting Laws

Kidnapping is the crime of taking a person against their will to an undisclosed location.  This may be done for ransom or in furtherance of another crime, or in connection with a child custody dispute.

According to the laws of Pennsylvania, a person is guilty of kidnapping if s/he unlawfully removes another a substantial distance under the circumstances from the place where s/he is found, or if s/he unlawfully confines another for a substantial period in a place of isolation, with any of the following intentions:

  • To hold for ransom or reward, or as a shield or hostage.
  • To facilitate commission of any felony or flight thereafter.
  • To inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another.
  • To interfere with the performance by public officials of any governmental or political function.

Kidnapping is a felony of the first degree if a removal or confinement is unlawful and is accomplished by force, threat or deception.  In the case of a person who is under the age of 14 years or an incapacitated person, it is first degree if it is accomplished without the consent of a parent, guardian or other person responsible for general supervision of his welfare[i].  In addition, a person who knowingly receives, retains or disposes of any money which constitutes a ransom is guilty of a felony in the third degree[ii].

In Pennsylvania, law enforcement agencies shall investigate a report of a missing child immediately upon receipt of the report regardless of the age of the missing child or the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the child.

Pennsylvania Missing Persons is an organization, which promotes public awareness of Pennsylvania’s missing and unidentified persons.  It provides a central location for all of the missing and unidentified cases within the state.  It also assists in finding the missing persons, and provides support and resources for those dealing with missing person situations.

Pennsylvania Missing Persons

[i] 18 Pa.C.S. § 2901

[ii] 18 Pa.C.S. § 2907


Inside Pennsylvania Kidnapping/Abducting Laws