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View Full Version : "Kidnapped" vs "Held Hostage"


Otto
04-01-2004, 09:15 AM
When does one make the transition from being "kidnapped" to being "taken/held hostage"? From a public perception standpoint my WAG is that it depends on of whom the kidnapper/hostage taker is making demands (from an individual or corporation, kidnapped; from a government, hostage) but is there a legal distinction?

sailor
04-01-2004, 09:25 AM
When does one make the transition from being "kidnapped" to being "taken/held hostage"? From a public perception standpoint my WAG is that it depends on of whom the kidnapper/hostage taker is making demands (from an individual or corporation, kidnapped; from a government, hostage) but is there a legal distinction?My perception is that kidnapped implies the whereabouts are unknown, maybe moving around, whereas "held hostage" implies a know location and a demand.

Examples: A girl is taken by a man and they disappear. She was kidnapped.

A man enters a bank and is now holed up in the bank with hostages. The hostages serve as a bargaining point. "Stay away and give me what I want or I kill the hostages."

Bricker
04-01-2004, 09:51 AM
Legally - at least in Virginia - the distinction is meaningless.

Kidnapping is completed by: Any person, who, by force, intimidation or deception, and without legal justification or excuse, seizes, takes, transports, detains or secretes the person of another, with the intent to deprive such other person of his personal liberty or to withhold or conceal him from any person, authority or institution lawfully entitled to his charge...

See Va. Code 18.2-47.

- Rick

sailor
04-01-2004, 10:18 AM
"Secretes a person"? "Human secretion (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=%22human+secretion%22)"is a crime? ;)

I think the main distinction is, as I said, that kidnaping implies unknown whereabouts more than "beign held hostage" does. It also implies more of a common crime than being held for political demands but the meanings mostly overlap.

Note that it was common for peoples in old times to exchange hostages as a guarantee thet they would keep their pacts. It was nothing illegal or criminal.

OTOH, kidnapping has always had a criminal connotation.

leenmi
04-01-2004, 10:41 AM
I agree with sailor.

They are, now, very similar terms. Kidnapping implies some level of secrecy to me, though, and hostage taking is more overt. Not ironclad, though.

I like the distinction that hostages are used as collateral of some form.

Otto
04-01-2004, 10:59 AM
Re unknown vs known location, I think back to the hostages held in Lebanon in the 80s. Their whereabouts where unknown but they were referred to as "hostages." That situation, though, is muddied by the politics involved as well as the temporal proximity of the Iran hostage crisis.

But then there's Patty Hearst. AFAIK she was never referred to as a hostage, but then the demands in her case were not limited to either the private or the public sector.

Enola Straight
04-01-2004, 11:46 AM
In order to be kidnapped, you must be taken by force or by false pretense from your place of abode or employ..."taken away from" is the operative phrase.

nocturnal_tick
04-01-2004, 11:57 AM
Surely someone that has been kidnapped is being held hostage. Rather than the known/unknown location I think that differentiating between the two has some relevance as to whether the capture of (an) individual(s) was planned or not.

1) A group attempts to rob a bank, the police arrive and the group are forced to take hostages - This was not part of the plan and so is a hostage taking

2) The group now attempts to kidnap the child of the bank manager, demanding ransom - This is a planned action and so is a kidnapping.

3) Hi Opal!

4) The group belong to a paramilitary group in some jungle. They hold prisoner several gap year students who thought it would be nifty to live with the monkeys - This scenario puts my idea down the toilet. I guess it would come down to private / governmental demands.

Bricker
04-01-2004, 01:09 PM
In order to be kidnapped, you must be taken by force or by false pretense from your place of abode or employ..."taken away from" is the operative phrase.

Cite?

You've quoted the common-law definition, which has been replaced by statutory definitions pretty much everywhere. Is there any jurisdiction in which your defintion is still correct?

- Rick

sailor
04-01-2004, 01:34 PM
Surely someone that has been kidnapped is being held hostage. I don't think so. Hostage implies the person is being held as leverage so third parties will do or not do something.

Websters says hostage is [ 1 a : a person held by one party in a conflict as a pledge that promises will be kept or terms met by the other party b : a person taken by force to secure the taker's demands If a girl is taken and raped she was kidnaped but not really held hostage.

Otto
04-01-2004, 02:10 PM
3) Hi Opal! If one must use "Hi Opal!" then one ought to use it correctly. It's only used as the third and last item of a list. If your list ithout "Hi Opal!" is three items or longer, no "Hi Opal!".

Cervaise
04-01-2004, 07:32 PM
Somebody saw "Karen Sisco" on USA last night, didn't somebody? ;)

David Simmons
04-01-2004, 07:45 PM
It sounds like kidnapping sort of includes being held hostage. I.e. you are kidnapped if you are held against your will. But you might also be kidnapped and held as hostage pending the payment of a ransom.

Otto
04-01-2004, 08:37 PM
Somebody saw "Karen Sisco" on USA last night, didn't somebody? ;) Actually, no. The question just popped into my head yesterday on the way home from work.

Loach
04-01-2004, 11:18 PM
As always I have to preface this by saying the law in your state may be different. In NJ there is no distinction between kidnapping and hostage-taking. Both fall under criminal restraint (http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/charges/jury/crimrest1.htm) . The confusion may come at the federal level. If someone is kidnapped then it falls under federal jurisdiction and the FBI is called in. This is because the assumption is made that the victim may be taken across state lines. There is a federal kidnapping statute (http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=browse_usc&docid=Cite:+18USC1201) which defines kidnapping as taking someone for money. There is also a federal statute for hostage taking (http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=browse_usc&docid=Cite:+18USC1203) .There are some very specific differences in the laws which you can read for yourself. Hope this is what you are looking for.

Enola Straight
04-02-2004, 04:56 PM
Cite?

You've quoted the common-law definition, which has been replaced by statutory definitions pretty much everywhere. Is there any jurisdiction in which your defintion is still correct?

- Rick

I think I remember on Maury Povich :rolleyes: He had a guest which a stalker broke into her house and held her against her will.

As he was dragging her to his car, he was apprehended at the front gate to her lawn by the police.

He avoided Federal kidnapping charges because she was not yet taken away from her own property.

Otto
04-02-2004, 05:54 PM
Well sonofabitch, I guess I shoulda Googled. From Title 18, part 1, chapter 55 (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/pIch55.html):
Sec. 1201. - Kidnapping

(a)

Whoever unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, or carries away and holds for ransom or reward or otherwise any person, except in the case of a minor by the parent thereof, when -

(1)

the person is willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce, regardless of whether the person was alive when transported across a State boundary if the person was alive when the transportation began;

(2)

any such act against the person is done within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States;

(3)

any such act against the person is done within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States as defined in section 46501 of title 49;

(4)

the person is a foreign official, an internationally protected person, or an official guest as those terms are defined in section 1116(b) of this title; or

(5)

the person is among those officers and employees described in section 1114 of this title and any such act against the person is done while the person is engaged in, or on account of, the performance of official duties,


shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life and, if the death of any person results, shall be punished by death or life imprisonment.
Sec. 1203. - Hostage taking


(a)

Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, seizes or detains and threatens to kill, to injure, or to continue to detain another person in order to compel a third person or a governmental organization to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the person detained, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life and, if the death of any person results, shall be punished by death or life imprisonment.

(b)


(1)

It is not an offense under this section if the conduct required for the offense occurred outside the United States unless -

(A)

the offender or the person seized or detained is a national of the United States;

(B)

the offender is found in the United States; or

(C)

the governmental organization sought to be compelled is the Government of the United States.

Bricker
04-02-2004, 08:03 PM
I think I remember on Maury Povich :rolleyes: He had a guest which a stalker broke into her house and held her against her will.

As he was dragging her to his car, he was apprehended at the front gate to her lawn by the police.

He avoided Federal kidnapping charges because she was not yet taken away from her own property.

As you can see from Otto's cite, the person on Maury Povich would not have broken federal kidnapping law even if he had removed her from her own property.

So... no.

- Rick

Kaotic Newtral
04-02-2004, 09:33 PM
If one must use "Hi Opal!" then one ought to use it correctly. It's only used as the third and last item of a list. If your list ithout "Hi Opal!" is three items or longer, no "Hi Opal!".


My complete agreement follows the end of this quip. I'd noticed a sharp decline in 'Hi Opal' for the last 18 months or so...and now it's perked back up. I'm not sure why.

If you must use it, it has to be number 3....like a filler.




-K