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Aggravated Kidnapping: Definition, Laws & Statistics

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  • 0:03 The Lindbergh Kidnapping
  • 0:34 Aggravated Kidnapping
  • 1:35 Aggravated Kidnapping in Texas
  • 2:11 Aggravated Kidnapping…
  • 3:10 Aggravated Kidnapping…
  • 3:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Millicent Kelly

Millicent has been teaching at the university level since 2004. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and a Master's degree in Human Resources.

Aggravated kidnapping is a crime that strikes fear into the hearts of parents. This lesson defines what constitutes aggravated kidnapping, discuss applicable laws, and provide some statistics.

The Lindbergh Kidnapping

On the first day of March in 1932, the almost two-year-old son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped from his bedroom at the Lindbergh home. A series of ransom notes followed, demanding a large sum of money for the child's return.

The child's body was found approximately six weeks later, and the hunt for the kidnapper intensified. Bruno Hauptmann, a local carpenter, was arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping and murder in September of 1934.

Aggravated Kidnapping

Kidnapping is a criminal offense that takes place when a person takes another person to a location and then prevents them from leaving freely. The case of the Lindbergh baby goes a step further and qualifies as the criminal offense of aggravated kidnapping because of the factors and outcome involved.

When someone mentions the term 'kidnapping' we tend to think of cases involving stranger abductions resulting in sexual assault or even death. However, these instances of aggravated kidnapping are actually extremely rare and account for only about 1 percent of all kidnappings reported on an annual basis.

A kidnapping becomes aggravated when factors are involved above and beyond taking and keeping someone against their will. These aggravating factors can include:

  • Holding someone for ransom
  • Using force to abduct or detain someone
  • Crossing state lines while committing the offense of kidnapping

Aggravated kidnapping laws vary from state to state. Let's take a look at how the states of Texas and Tennessee define aggravated kidnapping.

Aggravated Kidnapping in Texas

Under Texas law, aggravated kidnapping is a felony in the first degree. There are seven elements that cause a kidnapping in Texas to become aggravated. They include:

  1. Terroristically threatening the victim
  2. Requesting ransom for the victim
  3. Injuring or sexually violating the victim
  4. Abducting someone while committing a felony
  5. The kidnapping interferes with a political or government event
  6. The kidnapper uses a deadly weapon, such as a gun or knife
  7. The kidnapper uses the victim to protect themselves from harm

Aggravated Kidnapping in Tennessee

Aggravated kidnapping in Tennessee is categorized at two levels under Tennessee law: aggravated kidnapping and extremely aggravated kidnapping. Aggravated kidnapping in Tennessee takes place if one or more of the five aggravating factors below are present, including:

  1. The kidnapping interferes with a political or government event
  2. The kidnapping occurs during the commission of a felony
  3. The victim of the kidnapping is physically harmed
  4. A deadly weapon is used during the kidnapping
  5. The kidnapping is committed with the intent to seriously injure the victim

Extremely aggravated kidnapping in Tennessee occurs when one or more of four factors are present, including:

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