Kidnapping | Kidnapping Charges and Defenses in Texas

What is kidnapping?

Kidnapping is a third-degree felony in Texas, carrying a punishment range of 2-10 years in prison. Kidnapping occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly “abucts” another person.

What does it mean to “abduct” under Texas law?

Abduct means to “restrain” a person with intent to prevent his liberation by holding him where he is not likely to be found or by using deadly force.

kidnappingWhat does it mean to restrain a person under Texas law?

In Texas, “restrain” means to restrict a person’s movements without consent so as to interfere substantially with the person’s liberty by moving the person from one place to another, or by confining the person. See Penal Code Section 20.01(1).

This definition is a little counterintuitive because it seems to cover a lot more than just restraint. For example, if a defendant places this woman in the trunk of his car without her consent, and then either keeps her there, or drives off with her, the defendant has restrained her according to the penal code definition. Restraint without consent is accomplished by force, intimidation, or deception. Restraint without consent is also accomplished by any means, including acquiescence or agreement of the victim if it is a child, 14 or younger, or an incompetent person and the parent or guardian has not agreed to the movement or confinement. Restraint without consent is also accomplished by any means including acquiescence. Notice that you don’t have to physically move someone from one place to another in order to abduct them. You merely need to hold them in a place where they’re not likely to be found.

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Penal Code Section 20.03


(a)  A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly abducts another person.

(b)  It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1)  the abduction was not coupled with intent to use or to threaten to use deadly force;

(2)  the actor was a relative of the person abducted;  and

(3)  the actor’s sole intent was to assume lawful control of the victim.

(c)  An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.

Learn more: Aggravated Kidnapping


Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese