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Report No. 35

477. Kidnapping and abduction.-

We have also considered the question whether kidnapping and abduction of children, particularly when the kidnapping is with the object of maiming, should be made a capital offence. So far as kidnapping generally is concerned, there is one difficulty if the offence is made a capital one. The offender would (if the offence is punishable with death) have a temptation to take the life of the victim, because by doing so, he would not get a higher punishment.1 So far as kidnapping for maiming is concerned, this difficulty may not be there. But we do not think that the social harm caused by kidnapping for maiming approaches, in gravity that caused by murder. We are not, therefore, inclined to make the suggested change.

1. The point is discussed in detail in the discussion relating to rape, para. 522, infra.

478. In the State of Ohio (U.S.A.), legislation1 making kidnapping a capital offence was introduced and enacted after the kidnapping and subsequent death of a boy.2-3.

1. It is popularly known as the Baby Lindbergh Act.

2. See the statement of Mr. Michael Disalle, Governor of Ohio, dated 10th February, 1959, reproduced in McClellan Capital Punishment, (1961), pp. 108-109.

3. Kidnapping a minor is also a federal capital offence in U.S.A., in cases where the federal Code applies. See U.N. Publication, p. 38, para. 120, as to the position in various countries.

479. Kidnapping is a capital offence in certain countries, and these seem to fall under three groups-

(i) kidnapping simply;

(ii) kidnapping accompanied with aggravating circumstances (e.g., kidnapping for ransom); and

(iii) kidnapping followed by death.

480. After the kidnapping and murder in New Jersey in 1932 of the child of Charles A and Anne Morrow Lindberg,1 State Legislatures in the U.S.A. expanded the definition of kidnapping, and many States made it a capital offence. At the same time, it was made a federal offence to transport the victim of a kidnapping across a State boundary, with a maximum penalty of death2-3.

The following table shows the representative penalties for kidnapping in the States of U.S.A.4.


Representative Penalties for kidnapping (in U.S.A.)



Minimum penalty

Maximum penalty


(i) Simple

1 year

25 years

(ii) Ransom, reward or robbery-victim unharmed

Life, with possibility of parole.

Life with possibility of parole.

(iii) Ransom, etc.-victim harmed

Life, without possibility of parole.



No categories



New York

(i) Victim returned alive

20 years


(ii) Victim dead

20 years



(i) Simple


15 years

(ii) Ramsom-victim released without permanent injury.


30 years

(iii) Ransom-other



1. State v. Hauptmann, (1935) 115 NJL 412: 180 All 809 (Hauptmann was convicted and executed for murder in course of burglary of the child's sleeping suit, under felony-murder rule).

2. (1958) 18 USC 1201.

3. See also Fisher and McGuire Kidnapping and the so called Lindbergh Law, (1935) 12 NYLQ Rev 646.

4. Adapted from Rex A. Collings Jr. "Offences of Violence Against the Person" (1962 Jan.) Vol. 339, "Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences" pp. 24, 54 Table 3.

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