Difference Between Kidnapping and Abduction

No part of the world is 100% safe. We can easily find various crimes happening around us, the intensity or severity of the crime could be different but still, crime happens.

There are criminal laws that are defined in statutory terms for almost all kinds of crimes but punishment varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Among all Kidnapping and Abduction are two such crimes which are increasing with each passing day, where kids are especially affected. Both are serious offense and each has different punishments.

Many people see Kidnapping and Abduction as same but both are different in legal terms and holds different definitions.

All Kidnappings start with Abduction but not all Abductions can be kidnapping. “Kidnap” is a native English word that is formed from the word KID and NAPPER is used for the person who snatches, whereas “Abduct” is a Latin word, which means to “lead away.”

Kidnapping vs Abduction

The main difference between kidnapping and abduction is that when someone forcefully takes away the person against their consent or will and kept them in their imprisonment for which they don’t hold a legal authority is called a “Kidnapping”. When someone is forcefully compelled or induced and taken away from their home or any other place is called an “Abduction”.

Kidnapping vs Abduction

There is some motive is held behind Kidnappings such as money, revenge, sex, thrill, or political pressure. There may or may not be any motive behind Abduction.

Comparison Table Between Kidnapping and Abduction

Parameter of ComparisonKidnappingAbduction
DefinitionKidnapping is a criminal offense where a person is unlawfully taken and carried away by another person using force or fraudulent means and seized the person against his/her will.An Abduction is an act of taking away the person by another person without his/her consent.
Means UsedEnticement or taking away by the kidnapper.Compulsion, force, or deceitful means.
ConsentImmaterial.May be or May not be immaterial.
Offense TypeSubstantive offense, where different categories of the offense are created and punished accordingly.It is a kind of Auxiliary Act where an accused may attract some kind of punishment basis the severity of the type of Abduction.
Crime ContinuityIt is not a continuing offense as the person kidnapped is taken away from his/her lawful protection of parents or guardians.It is a continuing offense as a person abducted is moved from one place to another.
Purpose1.   For the purpose of begging.1.   To compel for marriage.
2.   For ransom.2.   To murder.
3.   To compel for marriage.3.   To confine a person for a wrongful act or to grievous hurt.
4.   To murder.4.   To steal a child under 10 years of age.
5.   To confine a person for a wrongful act or to grievous hurt.
6.   To steal a child under 10 years of age.

What is Kidnapping?

In Kidnapping, a person is taken away by the means of threat, deceit, and force against his/her will. The intent in Kidnapping is unlawful by various means.

An accused or kidnapper confined the person in a controlled environment using force or threat and doesn’t hold the legal authority to do so.

In Kidnapping a person can expect a lengthy detainment where harm or injury may occur.

Elements of kidnapping are

  1. Unlawful Movement
  2. Unlawful confinement, abduction, and restraint
  3. Unlawful intent

In Kidnapping, the principal motives are strong and put the victim into involuntary servitude of some form or to acquire some kind of benefits or seeking concessions or extortion for his/her safe release.

Motives behind Kidnapping:

  1. Money: Holding a person for ransom
  2. Personal: To take revenge
  3. Political: To force change or seek concession from the government
  4. Sexual: For rape
  5. To Seek Thrill: To experience the thrill of how it feels to control others.

Kidnapping is a serious, violent, and substantive offense where a victim is forcibly restrained and physically harmed.


What is Abduction?

Abduction is an unlawful and criminal act where a person, against his/her will, is taken away to another location from his/her original location by force, fraud, deceitful, persuasion, compulsion or induced, which may or may not involve violence.

In Abduction, an accused may not want to harm the person but imprison the person for some kind privileges that may or may not involve personal gains.

Here the victim is restrained from going to his/her original place.

Elements of Abduction are:

  1. Unlawful Movement
  2. Unlawful confinement and restraint
  3. Unlawful intent

In Abduction, the motive may or may not exists.

No matter whether a person is abducted for any benefit or not, still it is a severe crime and leaves the victim into a disconcerted position for a life-time.

Some of the motives behind Abduction are:

  • Personal: To take revenge or to Murder.
  • Sexual: To rape.
  • Sale: Using the victim as a subject in Prostitution.
  • To Seek Thrill: To experience the thrill of how it feels to control others.

The abduction of any person is illegal and comes under the law of punishment.


Main Differences Between Kidnapping and Abduction

Both Kidnapping and Abduction are grave crimes. It’s important to understand the difference between Kidnapping and Abduction because then only one can identify or able to categorize the same and can be punished accordingly.

  1. Kidnapping involves the Abduction but Abduction may not involve Kidnapping.
  2. Kidnapping is a substantive crime but an Abduction is an auxiliary act.
  3. A strong motive exists in Kidnapping, whereas in Abduction existence of motive may be or may not be there.
  4. The kidnapping of any kind is punishable and specific laws are clearly defined, whereas in Abduction the accused may be punished if criminal intent is there, but if no criminal intent is there then no punishment will be given.
Difference Between Kidnapping and Abduction


A crime of any kind is a serious sin and Kidnapping & Abduction are also considered as heinous. Both involve unlawful confinement of the person for some kind of concession or benefit.

Criminals find kidnapping and abduction as an easy medium to seek privilege but both leave the victim mentally thrashed, stressed, and disturbed for their entire life.

Even if the person is not harmed, when kidnapped or abducted, then also it can’t be considered as a no offense.

In both, there exists no statute of limitations in terms of harm.

Key Differences Between Kidnapping and Abduction (PDF Format)

Download the key differences in .PDF format, to read or print them later:

Difference Between Kidnapping and Abduction


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/hojo.12028
  2. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/brklr21&section=11
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