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Parental Kidnapping: What You Need to Know


Kidnapping is a serious criminal offense that carries a lengthy jail sentence and a hefty fine, but can you face these charges for kidnapping your own child? Depending on the purpose of your actions and your parental rights, you could potentially face parental kidnapping charges. Learn the details below.

Definition of Kidnapping

Each state has individual laws and punishments for kidnapping. In the state of Wisconsin, kidnapping occurs if and when:

  • The perpetrator threatens or forces another person to move from one place to another without the person’s consent, and the perpetrator intends to confine or imprison said person.
  • The perpetrator threatens or forces another person into confinement without the person’s permission, and the perpetrator intends to imprison or carry said person out of the state.
  • The perpetrator deceives another person to willingly go from one place to another, and the perpetrator intends to confine or imprison said person.

The perpetrator must have an intention to transport, imprison or confine the other person against their will in order for the act to be classified as kidnapping.

Parental Kidnapping

Parental kidnapping is when a parent imprisons, confines, or takes their child away from the other parental figure.

Simply living with the child or having a preexisting relationship with the child does not automatically give you parental rights. You must be the biological parent or have petitioned and received parental rights from the court. If you do not have these parental rights, you could face kidnapping charges for taking the child.

If you maintain full parental custody of the child, you cannot face parental kidnapping charges. If your actions do not violate your custody agreement, your actions are not a form of parental kidnapping; if your visitation agreement includes entire weekends and grants out-of-state travel, it is not a crime for you to take your child on an out-of-state trip. If your actions violate your visitation agreement, you could face parental kidnapping charges.


Under Wisconsin Statute 940.31, parental kidnapping is a Class C felony punishable by up to 40 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. If the kidnapper demanded ransom, the felony is punishable by up to 60 years in prison.

Contact Christopher J. Cherella to Discuss Your Kidnapping Charges

If you are facing kidnapping charges, contact the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella immediately. Available 24/7, Attorney Christopher Cherella is dedicated to fighting for your rights. He has more than 20 years of practice in criminal defense and serves clients in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin.

Call (414) 882-8382 to talk with Milwaukee Criminal Defense Lawyer Christopher Jr. Cherella.

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