North Carolina Kidnapping Crimes Kidnapping is charged as a serious felony offense in North Carolina. You could be sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence if you are convicted of a kidnapping crime. To avoid these harsh punishments, you need to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately to raise all your defenses to fight the charges you face.

What Constitutes Kidnapping in North Carolina

The crime of kidnapping is governed by N.C.G.S. 14.39 in our state. To be considered kidnapping, an individual must unlawfully confine, restrain, or move another person from one place to another place without their consent or the consent of their parent if they are under 16 years old. In addition, the purpose of the accused’s actions must be one of the following:

  • Holding the victim for ransom
  • Using the victim as a shield
  • Facilitating the commission of a felony or facilitating the flight of an individual following the commission of a felony
  • Inflicting serious bodily harm or terrorizing the victim or another person
  • Holding the victim in involuntary servitude
  • Subjecting the victim to human trafficking
  • Subjecting the victim to or maintaining them for sexual servitude

Two Degrees of Kidnapping in North Carolina

In our state, there are two degrees of kidnapping. Both are charged as felonies.

First-Degree Kidnapping

A person could be charged with first-degree kidnapping if the kidnapped victim was not released to a safe place, was sexually assaulted, or was seriously injured. This offense is charged as a Class C felony.

Second-Degree Kidnapping

An accused would be charged with second-degree kidnapping if they released the victim to a safe place and did not sexually assault or seriously injure them. Second-degree kidnapping is charged as a Class E felony.

Key Elements of the Crime

To convict someone of kidnapping, the prosecutor must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Here are some critical elements of the crime of kidnapping that must be proven.


The victim must be confined, restrained, or removed without their consent or the consent of their parent or legal guardian if they are under 16 years old for a kidnapping to have occurred. Dragging a person away when they are kicking, screaming, or otherwise fighting while being restrained is one way their lack of consent can be established. There could also be a lack of consent if the accused convinced the victim to be confined, restrained, or removed through trickery or fraud.


In addition, determining if the victim was restrained can be complicated. A certain level of restraint is inherent when crimes, such as rape and armed robbery, are committed. In these cases, the restraint of the victim may not be considered sufficient enough to justify charging the accused with kidnapping. Factors that would be considered include:

  • How long the victim was restrained
  • Whether the victim had been moved
  • Whether the victim was bound
  • Whether the victim suffered any injuries

Serious Bodily Harm

If the victim suffers serious bodily harm, the accused would be charged with first-degree kidnapping. However, the courts have not defined what constitutes serious bodily harm. The victim does not need to be hospitalized to have suffered a serious injury. These factors would be considered in determining if this element of the crime has been established:

  • How much pain and suffering the victim experienced
  • Whether there was a loss of blood
  • Whether the victim was hospitalized
  • How much time the victim took time off work due to their injuries

Penalties for Kidnapping

If convicted of kidnapping, an individual can face these penalties:

  • First-degree kidnapping. 44 to 182 months in prison
  • Second-degree kidnapping. 15 to 63 months in prison

Are You Looking for a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Charlotte, NC?

If you are facing criminal charges, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charlotte office directly at 980.207.3355 to schedule your free consultation.


C. Todd Browning
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Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer
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