If you watch the news or use social media, you no doubt heard about a pair of Washington state siblings who thwarted a potential kidnapping of their 22-month-old brother. The attempted kidnapping – which was caught on camera and shows the kidnapper running away with the boy in his arms, the siblings running close behind – is every parent’s worst nightmare and reinforces the idea of “stranger danger.” But kidnapping encompasses much more than that.
Illinois Kidnapping Laws
In Illinois, a person commits the crime of kidnapping if he knowingly:
- And secretly confines another against his will;
- Carries a person from one place to another, by force or threat of force, with the intent to secretly confine her against her will, or;
- Tricks or entices a person to accompany him to another location with the intent to secretly confine the person against his will.
I will discuss each crime separately, to provide a better understanding of the types of actions that can constitute kidnapping under Illinois laws.
Secretly confine against one’s will
This form of kidnapping does not require that the victim be moved to another location or even be snatched off the street. The victim must only be confined against her will. The confinement can occur in any public or private place – even the victim’s own home. The location itself, or how the victim got there, is irrelevant to whether the crime was committed. The victim must have only had a reasonable belief that she was unable to leave.
Carry a person from one place to another
This is the most commonly thought of kidnapping scenario, the unknown assailant attacking a person on the street, or removing a child from his home in the middle of the night, and moving him to a secret location to be held for ransom. The movement does not need to be very far to fall into this category of kidnapping. A victim can be pushed into the kidnapper’s car and driven a block away to an abandoned building, and it would constitute a kidnapping.
Using tricks or enticement to move a person
Again, the typical scenario that comes to mind is the stranger in the car who tells the child, “Come with me and I’ll show you my puppy.” In this form of kidnapping, the victim willingly goes with the kidnapper, but under false pretenses.
The ‘knowingly’ requirement
Kidnapping is a specific intent crime, which means that the kidnapper must have known he was holding the victim against her will. If the kidnapper had a reasonable belief that the victim consented to being held, or consented to accompany him to a third location, then he failed to commit an essential element of the crime and cannot be convicted.