Utah Kidnapping/Abduction Laws

Utah law classifies kidnapping into two categories: first degree and second degree. According to Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-301, a person commits kidnapping in the second degree if s/he intentionally or knowingly, without authority of law, and against the will of the victim:

  • detains or restrains the victim for any substantial period of time; or
  • detains or restrains the victim in circumstances exposing the victim to risk of bodily injury; or
  • holds the victim in involuntary servitude; or
  • detains or restrains a minor without the consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian; or
  • moves the victim any substantial distance or across a state line.

A person commits the crime of kidnapping in first degree if s/he commits child kidnapping or aggravated kidnapping.

As per Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-301, a person commits child kidnapping if s/he intentionally or knowingly seizes, confines, detains, or transports a child under the age of fourteen without the consent of the victim’s parent or guardian.

According to the statute, Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-302, a person commits the crime of aggravated kidnapping if in the course of committing kidnapping possesses, uses or threatens to use a dangerous weapon and acts with intend to:

  • hold the victim for ransom or reward, or as a shield or hostage, or to compel a third person to engage in particular conduct or to forbear from engaging in particular conduct; or
  • facilitate the commission, attempted commission, or flight after commission or attempted commission of a felony; or
  • hinder or delay the discovery of or reporting of a felony; or
  • inflict bodily injury on or to terrorize the victim or another; or
  • interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function; or commit a sexual offense.

Involuntariness of the victim’s seizure and detention is the essential element of the crime of kidnapping.[i]

As per, Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-301.1 and 302, punishment for first degree kidnapping is imprisonment for not less than fifteen years and which may be for life.  Second degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for a term of not less than three years and not more than fifteen years.  If, in the course of committing a second degree kidnapping some bodily injury is caused to the person kidnapped or the person committing kidnapping is previously convicted of a grievous sexual offense, then the punishment is life without parole.  In the interests of justice if the court finds that a lesser term may be given it shall state the reasons and impose imprisonment of a lesser term.

The Department of Public Safety investigates and analyses the crime of kidnapping.  The Department provides a safe and secure environment for the people of Utah.

Utah Department of Public Safety


[i] Chatwin v. United States, 326 U.S. 455 (U.S. 1946)


Inside Utah Kidnapping/Abduction Laws