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Simple Abduction

When charged with any criminal offense in Virginia, it is paramount that the person being charged has a fundamental understanding of what the prosecution will allege at trial. This article will focus on Virginia’s treatment and perspective of “Simple Abduction,” as opposed to “Aggravated Abduction,” which will be addressed in an upcoming article.

What is “Simple Abduction?” In Virginia, this crime has a statutory basis.  In essence, the crime refers to the use of intimidation, deception, or force to take or detain another person with the intent to either (1) hide him/her from proper custody, or (2) deprive that person of liberty.

What constitutes a deprivation of the liberty of another? Depriving one of liberty by means of force or intimidation can entail the use of actual physical force, or the display of a gun or other weapon. Even if the victim does not actually see the weapon, Virginia has held that a threat accompanied by a “click,” as if to imply the presence of a weapon, is enough to constitute the necessary degree of force or threat of force.

As mentioned above, deception can also serve as a means of abduction. To suffice, such deception must be a trick that actually causes or persuades the alleged victim to stay with the defendant.

The prosecution must prove that the defendant not only used force, intimidation, or deception…but also that as a result of such conduct, there occurred a detention, taking, seizure, transportation, or secreting of the victim. Thus, the crime of simple abduction does NOT require movement of the victim.

When is abduction the wrong crime to charge a defendant with? When a person is charged with abduction by detention in addition to some other crime that includes the same facts/element of restraint – such as rape or robbery for example – the defendant can NOT be convicted of both crimes unless there is a distinction in the facts that separates the two crimes. In such a scenario, the more serious crime would likely be charged against the defendant whereas the simple abduction charge would not be prosecuted.

1. Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-47.A

2. Barnett v. Com., 216 Va. 200, 217 S.E.2d 828 (1975).

3. Jerman v. Director of Dept. of Corrections, 267 Va. 432, 593 S.E.2d 255 (2004).

4. Brown v. Com., 230 Va. 310, 337 S.E.2d 711 (1985).

5. Hoyt v. Com., 44 Va. App. 489, 605 S.E.2d 755 (2004).