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Michigan law: a look at kidnapping

In many states, “kidnapping” is defined as the taking of an individual from one place to another against their will, and confining them in that space. In the state of Michigan, the law further stipulates that in order to be considered kidnapping, the defendant must have the intent to do something unlawful to the victim, such as:

  • Using the victim for ransom/reward, as a shield or as a hostage
  • Engaging in any kind of prohibited sexual conduct with the victim
  • Moving the victim to another state
  • Keeping the victim in forced servitude


At the federal level, kidnapping is a felony offense, the punishment for which is often 20 or more years in prison. Kidnapping cases are typically tried at the federal level when the crime involves crossing state lines.

However, in most other cases, kidnapping is prosecuted by the state. In Michigan, a person convicted of kidnapping can face any term of imprisonment (including life) and/or $50,000 in fines.

Legal defenses

Legal defenses for the crime of kidnapping may include:

  • The victim willingly accompanied the defendant.
  • The defendant did not intend to kill or cause harm to the victim.
  • The defendant committed the crime by mistake or did not understand that it was a crime.
  • The defendant is criminally insane or has another mental disorder.

It is important to understand that the law surrounding kidnapping is more complex in Michigan than in other states. Because Michigan does not consider the act of taking and restraining a person to be kidnapping, the intent to commit other unlawful acts to the victim must also be proven.

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