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Kidnapping is an offence that can come with a stiff punishment. This article provides detailed guidance on the typical sentencing for this offence.

What is the sentence for Kidnapping in 2024?

The offence of kidnapping may also be referred to as child abduction in UK law, although it is overall a different crime. Child abduction is a categorisation of kidnapping.

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If you find out that you’re under investigation for a crime as serious as this, you will need to seek the legal guidance of a competent solicitor immediately.

The faster you get somebody on your side, the better the results are likely to be. There will be more time to make a strong argument in your defence before something drastic happens.

It can be very frightening for anybody who is being accused, arrested or charged for kidnapping. There will be concerns about what detrimental impact imprisonment will have on their life and what damage it will do to their relationships and familial bonds. Will there also be a hefty fine to pay in addition to the inability to provide income for rent payments, food and utility bills?

To provide you with support and guidance on being convicted of kidnapping, we have posted several of the questions that our clients typically ask, along with their answers. It’s important to note that hiring a legal professional who is experienced and competent can avoid a prison sentence or at least possibly get it reduced.

Have you been charged or arrested for kidnapping?  

Being charged or arrested for kidnapping can be a very frightening experience. There will be concerns about what the outcome might be, will you be sent to prison and separated from your family? Will you be able to provide for them even though imprisoned? How will they pay bills, rent or mortgage?

Taking the legal guidance of a lawyer who has experience of defending others accused of kidnapping is imperative. They will be able to provide you with information on what you should and shouldn’t do and say. They will be able to demand to see any evidence that the police have against you.

Police training includes how to gain convictions. One of the favourite tactics is to withhold evidence on you. They will tell you about some of the evidence they have, but they are also likely to keep some of it to themselves. The plan is to get you to trip up over information so that you incriminate yourself – at which point they will pounce on you with a charge.

What type of actions are considered kidnapping?

The offence of kidnapping is when somebody is taken against their will and imprisoned against their consent. There may be some form of ransom or financial gain involved.

There is another offence known as abduction. Abduction is when a person or a child is taken away from where are meant to be. A demonstration of this is when a father abducts a child and takes them to another country, without the other parent’s consent.

What is the average sentence for kidnapping offences?

Every kidnapping case is unique and has different circumstances, such as where there is the involvement of firearms or other weapons. These factors are considered when the Judge decides what the sentence should be.

Kidnapping is a very serious offence heard on indictment. The case will be heard in the Crown Court. Kidnapping is a common law offence and this means the Court will take into consideration previous case law as well as your own personal circumstances to determine the most appropriate sentence.

Sentencing will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The degree of planning involved.
  • Use of violence.
  • Vulnerability of the victim.
  •  Use of a weapon.
  •  Whether a ransom was involved.
  •  The number of offenders involved; and
  • Any other offences that were committed.

What are some of the mitigating factors that might reduce the kidnapping sentence?

When sentencing for kidnapping, your case will be investigated thoroughly by the police and other regulatory agents.

Whether you have taken part in a group activity or forced into it is considered. If you’ve used a false identity, or you have used the identity of others to access more funds, this will be considered to decide your sentence.

Certain aspects of a case are known as the mitigating aspects which can influence the sentence that a judge gives. One of the factors judges consider in every case of this nature is the defendant’s level of genuine remorse.

The following are some of the other factors considered when the Court decides which sentence to give. They will look at:

  • Any previous conviction
  • Your level of remorse
  • Your level of cooperation with the investigation
  • Whether the activity you took part in was initially legitimate
  • Your reputation / good character
  • Whether you have any severe medical conditions that require long term, urgent or intensive treatment
  • Whether you have a learning disability or a mental disorder
  • Whether you are the sole or primary carer for related dependents

Is it possible to reduce a sentence for kidnapping with a guilty plea?

In recent years, several changes have been made to the sentencing system in the UK to save the court time and cost and to protect witnesses from the stress of needlessly going through a trial. For offenders aged 18 and over, pleading guilty early on in a case can reduce a sentence by as much as one third (maximum). The later the plea is entered, the smaller the reduction.

‘Early on’ refers to ‘the first stage of the proceedings’ and means anytime up to and including the first hearing at the Magistrates Court or Crown Court for indictable offences.

If a plea is entered 14 days after the first hearing, for example, the maximum level of reduction is just 20% or one-fifth of the sentence. For indictable offences, the limit for a guilty plea to be made is within 28 days after the prosecutor has stated compliance with section 3 of CPIA 1996 and serving disclosure. However, the decision is ultimately in the hands of the Judge, who has the discretion to apply whatever credit is deemed appropriate.

After these times, there is a sliding scale of credit applied. This means one-tenth on the first day of the trial and to zero if entered during the trial. In theory, the ten per cent could be given if the plea is issued after the opening speeches on the first day, but before any witness evidence is heard.

If the accused does not want to plead guilty, then it’s essential for the solicitor to regularly inform the Court throughout the trial of the reasons why the client’s plea is not guilty.

What are some of the other consequences of kidnapping offence?

Ancillary Orders

A court can also make ancillary orders on a defendant if they are found guilty and convicted of a kidnapping offence. These are extra elements of punishment that can be added to a sentence and include additional restrictions or requirements that can affect a dependent’s finances, your property or business or financial activity.

Ancillary orders that are typically added to the penalty for those who are found to be guilty of kidnapping include:

  • Compensation for loss
  • Restraint orders
  • Reparation orders
  • Financial reporting order
  • Disqualification from directing a company
  • Confiscation orders

As part of your investigation, you may also have your assets frozen with the possibility of having cash or other assets seized.

Besides, the Court may demand payment of the following if the accused is convicted:

Payment of costs applied for by the prosecutors

Although the police meet some of the costs involved in the prosecution, the costs of investigation are typically sought from the convicted. These may include the costs of:

  • The work done in obtaining sufficient evidence for prosecution either at the initial stage or later at the request of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
  • Seeking medical or expert evidence as part of the investigation, (where a witness is required to attend Court, the cost of the attendance falls on the CPS).
  • Re-interviewing witnesses
  • The entire costs of the prosecutor, including fees for the use of external Barristers used by the CPS, can be recovered from the defendant, subject to means. At the end of the case, the prosecutor under The Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 will request the Judge to order a sum to be paid for the costs incurred by the prosecutor in bringing the prosecution.

Victims surcharges

The term victims’ surcharges can be explained as paying compensation to a fund for victims and can range between £20 to £170 depending on what sentence you were given at conviction.

How sentences can be added to national information databases

There are several national databases that hold information about individuals and any allegations made about them, their criminal and court records. These include the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) which was previously known as the CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) and the Police National Computer (PNC).  Depending on what happened, whether the accused is convicted and what sentence was issued, the accused may be added to one or all these databases. Their purpose is to provide information to potential employers and to regulate the ability to take part in certain activities.

If your case progresses to Court and you are convicted of kidnapping, your conviction will be noted on your CRB / police record. The period of the endorsement will depend on the nature and length of your sentence.

Below are details on how long you will be listed as holding a criminal record if convicted. This is something very serious to consider when it comes to future employment. The term ‘spent’ refers to when your name can be removed from the databases.

Rehabilitation Period
(the time it takes for the sentence to become ‘spent’)
Sentence Adult (aged 18+) at time of conviction Young person (aged under 18) at time of conviction
Prison sentences of more than 4 years Sentence is never spent Sentence is never spent
Prison sentences of more than 2.5 years (30 months) but less than 4 years Sentence length 7 years Sentence length 3.5 years
Prison sentences of more than 6 months but less than 2.5 years (30 months) Sentence length +4 years Sentence length +2 years
Prison sentences of less than 6 months Sentence length + 2 years Sentence length +18 months
Conditional Discharge Length of order Length of order
Absolute Discharge None None
Conditional Caution 3 months 3 months
Simple Caution / Youth Caution None – immediately ‘spent’ None – immediately ‘spent’
Other Including Compensation Order, Supervision Order, Bind Over, Hospital Order Length of the order / once compensation is paid Length of the order / once compensation is paid

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

The role of the prosecution team is to prove that you are guilty of and intended to kidnap a person. They will collect evidence to confirm that this is the case to the Judge and jury in the hopes of convincing them that you are guilty and should be convicted.

Stuart Miller Solicitors are here to defend you. The first step will be to understand what happened. There will then be an investigation into what evidence the prosecution team have on you. We will speak to people who know you and collect evidence and witness statements to support your defence strategy.

Using the experience that our legal team have accrued over thirty years of legal defence work, our team will work together to ensure that you have an almost bullet-proof defence strategy. Over the years, we have created a strong network with other legal professionals such as QCs, Barristers and expert witnesses who work with us on defence cases.

Our role will be to weaken whatever evidence the prosecution has on you so that the Judge and jury cannot be convinced that you’re guilty of the offence.

Our kidnap solicitors can help

Being involved in any case of this nature means that you need solicitors with experience in the kidnapping offence to examine the case. Part of this is spending the time with the client so that they are represented fairly and well. It’s essential to be able to sell the client to the jury so that they may be more lenient with judgement.

Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?

You are invited to call us or contact us for a no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. For thirty minutes, you can share your concerns and ask our advice on what your best approach is with regards to getting the most favourable outcome.

Our legal team are highly experienced and some of the brightest minds in London, but we are also friendly, down to earth, and approachable. We understand how difficult this time is for you, and we are here to support you.

Complete our contact form , call us on 0208 888 5225 or in the case of an emergency, call us on our 24/7 line on 07980 000 076.

Get in touch with us now for kidnapping legal help.

(This page was last updated on November 20, 2023).


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