Kidnapping is a very serious criminal offence that deals with an accused person taking their victim(s) from one place to another without their consent. It is a particularly serious offence given the victim’s liberty interests and is often laid in conjunction with other violent offences. The Criminal Code of Canada sets out the offence in section 279(1):
The crown attorney must prove that the accused person took or moved a person from one place to another without their consent and without lawful authority. Kidnapping is a specific intent offence so the crown must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that that accused person intended to do one or more of the things listed in subsections (a) to (c).
Kidnapping is a straight indictable offence and contains several mandatory minimum sentences. The sentences prescribed differ based on the circumstances. If a firearm is used and the accused is acting at for the benefit of a criminal organization the maximum penalty is life in prison. The minimum sentence in these circumstances is 5 years for a first offence, and 7 years for a subsequent offence.
Otherwise, if a firearm is used in the commission of a kidnapping offence the maximum punishment is life in prison. The mandatory minimum sentence in this circumstance is four years in a penitentiary.
If the victim in a kidnapping case is under the age of 16 and the accused is a parent or guardian, the mandatory minimum sentence is five years in prison (with a maximum sentence of life in prison).