Go to Homepage


When Can Someone Be Charged With Kidnapping in Wisconsin?

 Posted on May 29, 2024 in Criminal Defense

Milwaukee, WI criminal defense lawyerKidnapping is a serious crime. However, what most people believe to be kidnapping may not necessarily fall within the definition of this offense under Wisconsin law. In fact, most kidnapping cases are related to child custody disputes, and parents or other family members or friends who deny a parent access to his or her child may be charged with child abduction or interference with custody. 

For those who have been accused of kidnapping, it is important to understand the circumstances under which a person can be charged with kidnapping or child abduction. An experienced attorney can provide legal representation in these cases, helping someone who faces criminal charges understand the potential penalties and options for defense.

What Is Kidnapping?

Kidnapping is defined under Wisconsin Statutes Section 940.31. A person can be charged with kidnapping if he or she intentionally confines or carries away another person without their consent. This offense may involve the use of force, threats, or deceit; the victim may be confined, imprisoned, or unwillingly taken out of the state of Wisconsin. Under this definition, kidnapping victims are usually adults.

Kidnapping in Wisconsin, under most circumstances, is classified as a Class C felony. The penalties one may face, if convicted, include a sentence of up to 40 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000. If one holds a victim for ransom with the intent of receiving money or property in exchange for their release, the offense becomes a Class B felony. Conviction may result in a prison sentence of up to 60 years.

Child Abduction and Interference With Custody

Most people believe kidnapping to be an individual taking a child, keeping the child away from his or her parents, and possibly demanding ransom. However, this offense is known as child abduction, not kidnapping in Wisconsin. Anyone other than a child’s parent or legal custodian who takes a child away from their parents and detains a child, or prevents a child from returning to their parent or legal guardian may be charged with a Class E felony. If convicted of this offense, one may be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison and be required to pay a fine of up to $50,000. If there is use of force or threats to take or detain a child in this manner, one may be charged with a Class C felony.

In many cases, child abduction cases are related to child custody disputes. One parent may take a child into her custody, refusing to allow the other parent to have access to the child. If a parent is deprived of the legal custody of his or her child for at least 12 hours, this is known as Interference With Custody. A parent who conceals her child from the other parent or violates a child custody order by refusing to allow the other parent to have physical placement or visitation may be charged with a Class F felony. An individual other than a parent who does not allow a parent to have access to his child may be charged with a Class I felony.

A Class F felony conviction can result in a fine of up to $25,000 and a prison sentence of up to 12 years and six months. A Class I felony carries a potential sentence of three years and six months, as well as a maximum fine of $10,000.

Potential Defense Strategies

Potential defense strategies that may be used when a person is charged with kidnapping, child abduction, or interference with custody include the following. 

  • Lack of Intent: One option for defense may be to argue that there was no intent to deny a person their freedom or keep a child away from their parents.

  • Consent: An alleged kidnapping victim may have consented to go with the defendant. A person charged with child abduction or interference with custody may show that the child’s parent consented to have the accused take the child.

  • Mistaken Identity: It may be possible to prove that the defendant accused of kidnapping or child abduction is not the person who committed the crime.

  • Safety of a Child: A parent may show that he or she reasonably believed that his or her child could suffer physical harm or sexual assault when in the care of the other parent, or they may demonstrate that they took their child because they were escaping an abusive situation.

Contact Our Milwaukee, WI Kidnapping Defense Attorneys

Kidnapping and related charges can be very serious. Anyone who has been accused of one of the offenses described above should be sure to secure legal representation from an attorney who has experience defending against these types of charges. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our Milwaukee Criminal Defense Lawyers can help determine the best defense strategies to use in these situations. Call 414-271-1440 today to schedule a consultation.

Share this post:
Back to Top