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Texas Kidnapping Laws


Kidnapping is both a state and a federal crime in Texas, and an alleged offender may face both federal and state charges in many kidnapping situations. Kidnapping charges may range from misdemeanors up and through to first-degree felonies in Texas.

There are several kidnapping charges in Texas, including:

  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful transport
  • Unlawful restraint

Aggravated Kidnapping

The most serious kidnapping charge in Texas is aggravated kidnapping. Aggravated kidnapping occurs when a person is abducted by another for:

  • Ransom
  • A hostage
  • Leverage
  • A human shield
  • The victim was terrorized
  • The victim suffered bodily harm or sexual abuse
  • A deadly weapon was used on the victim
  • The offender interfered with a government or political function

In any of the above cases, aggravated kidnapping is a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony charge may result in five to ninety-nine years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.


Kidnapping occurs any time a person knowingly or intentionally abducts another person against their will. There need not be the threat of violence or weapons for kidnapping to occur. Kidnapping is a third-degree felony in Texas and carries two to ten years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Unlawful Transport

An unlawful transport occurs when a defendant abducts an individual so that they are hidden from law enforcement, and there is a significant risk of suffering serious bodily injury or death. Unlawful transport is a third-degree felony unless:

  • The actor acts in such a way that creates a substantial likelihood that the smuggled individual will suffer serious bodily injury or death, which is a second-degree felony
  • The smuggled individual is a child younger than eighteen years of age at the time of the offense, which is also a second-degree felony
  • The smuggled individual becomes a victim of sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony
  • The smuggled individual suffered serious bodily injury or death, also a first-degree felony

Unlawful Restraint

A person commits unlawful restraint when he or she intentionally or knowingly restrains another person. Unlawful restraint is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 unless the victim is exposed to a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or certain types of individuals are unlawfully restrained. Then, unlawful restraint can be a third-degree felony.

If you or someone you love is facing kidnapping or kidnapping-related charges in the San Antonio area, there are several defenses that a skilled criminal defense attorney can raise on your behalf. Contact Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, for a complimentary consultation today and learn the best defenses available for your kidnapping case.

At Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, we have a track record of success defending clients in both misdemeanor and felony cases. Our attorneys stand ready to tackle even the most complex criminal legal problem and work with you to realize a sound strategy and practical legal solution to your kidnapping charges.