What class of offense is kidnapping in Wisconsin?

The charge of kidnapping is a felony charge here in Wisconsin.

Under state law, kidnapping is, under most circumstances, a Class C felony offense. This is a very serious offense class; of the nine main felony classes under Wisconsin law, Class C is the third most severe.

Now, there are certain limited circumstances in which kidnapping can rise to a Class B felony, the second most severe of the state’s general felony classes. Under state law, if a kidnapping was done with the intent to bring about a transfer of property by another in exchange for the victim’s release, it is a Class B felony rather than the standard Class C felony, unless all of the following are true:

  • The victim has been released.
  • The release occurred prior to the swearing in of the first witness at trial.
  • The victim suffered no permanent physical injury during the kidnapping.

Now, given how serious felony charges are in general, one might wonder: does what felony class a person is being charged with in relation to allegations of kidnapping really matter? After all, either way they are facing a felony.

The reality is that the class of felony charge a person is facing in relation to allegations of committing a felony offense matters considerably. For one, higher levels of felony charges can expose a person to a higher potential max sentence if they are ultimately convicted. For example, the max prison sentence for a Class C felony is generally 40 years, while the max prison sentence for a Class B felony is generally 60 years.

So, whether they are being charged with the typical Class C offense for kidnapping or the elevated Class B offense is one of the many things that can be incredibly impactful for a person accused of kidnapping and their case.

Sources: Wisconsin State Legislature, “Wisconsin Statutes - 940.31 - Kidnapping.,” Accessed July 11, 2016

Wisconsin State Legislature, “Wisconsin Statutes - 939.50 - Classification of felonies.,” Accessed July 11, 2016

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