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.


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Criminal laws are defined in statutory terms for almost all kinds of crimes, but punishment varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

All Kidnapping and Abduction are two such crimes which are increasing with each passing day, where kids are significantly affected. Both are severe offences, and each has different punishments.

Many people see Kidnapping and Abduction as the same, but both are different in legal terms and hold 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.”

Key Takeaways

  1. Kidnapping involves a person’s unlawful transportation or confinement, while abduction refers to the illegal taking away of a person, often by force or deception.
  2. Kidnapping is usually done for ransom or other illegal purposes, while abduction can also occur in child custody disputes or further legal proceedings.
  3. Kidnapping is a more severe offense than abduction and carries heavier penalties.

Kidnapping vs Abduction

The difference between kidnapping and abduction is that when someone forcefully takes away a person against their consent or will and keeps them in imprisonment for which they don’t hold legal authority is called “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

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

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonKidnappingAbduction
DefinitionKidnapping is a criminal offence 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 a person by another person without his/her consent.
Means UsedEnticement or taking away by the kidnapper.Compulsion, force, or deceitful means.
ConsentImmaterial.It may or May not be immaterial.
Offence TypeSubstantive offence, where different categories of the offence are created and punished accordingly.It is a kind of Auxiliary Act where an accused may attract some punishment basis the severity of the type of Abduction.
Crime ContinuityIt is not a continuing offence as the person kidnapped is taken away from his/her lawful protection of parents or guardians.It is a continuing offence as a person abducted is moved from one place to another.
Purpose1. to beg.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 grievous hurt.
6.   To steal a child under 10 years of age.

What is Kidnapping?

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

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

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 to acquire some benefits or seek 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 how it feels to control others.

Kidnapping is a serious, violent, and substantive offence 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, deceitfulness, 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 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 exist.

Whether a person is abducted for any benefit or not, it is still a severe crime and leaves the victim in a disconcerted position for a lifetime.

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 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. Understanding the difference between Kidnapping and Abduction is essential because only one can identify or categorize the same and be punished accordingly.

  1. Kidnapping involves 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, the motive may or may not exist.
  4. The kidnapping of any kind is punishable and specific laws are clearly defined. In contrast, 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
  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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