OLR Research Report

February 27, 2004




By: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney

You asked whether the kidnapping law was changed around 1995 to deal with attempted kidnapping. You also asked what the penalty is for attempted kidnapping.


The legislature did not change the law in 1995 or at any other time in recent years to deal with attempted kidnapping. But, in 1995, the legislature increased the penalty, from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony for “detaining” a child under age 16 out of state when, knowing he has no legal right to do so, someone refuses to return the child to his lawful custodian after the custodian requests his return (PA 95-206)(See CGS 53a-97). Generally, refusing to return a child after a request is second-degree custodial interference, a class A misdemeanor. Prior law it first- degree custodial interference, a class D felony, only for “taking” or “enticing” the child out of state.

A class D felony is punishable by a prison term of up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. A class A misdemeanor is punishable by a prison term of up to one year, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.

The act also required all parties to a custody proceeding under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act to give their social security numbers at the first pleading or in an accompanying affidavit. That act governs child custody proceedings involving parties who live in different states.

The legislature made one other change to the kidnapping laws during the 1990s. In 1993 (PA 93-148), legislation required a mandatory, minimum three-year sentence for anyone convicted of second-degree kidnapping and raised the mandatory minimum, from one to three years, for someone convicted of second-degree kidnapping with a firearm. These crimes are class B felonies (up to 20 years in prison). A person is guilty of (1) second-degree kidnapping when he abducts someone and (2) second-degree kidnapping with a firearm if, in the course of abducting someone, he is armed with, threatens to use, or purports to have a firearm.

Attempt to commit kidnapping is punishable to the same extent as the particular kidnapping offense involved (CGS 53a-51). For example, an attempt to commit kidnapping in the first degree, which is a class B felony, would be punishable as a class B felony also.

Criminal Attempt

A person is guilty of an attempt to commit a crime if, acting with the kind of mental state required for commission of the crime, he intentionally: (1) engages in conduct which would constitute the crime if the attendant circumstances were as he believes them to be or (2) does or omits to do anything which, under the circumstances as he believes them to be, is an act or omission constituting a substantial step in a course of conduct planned to culminate in his commission of the crime(CGS 53a-49).

Conduct does not constitute a substantial step unless it strongly corroborates the actor's criminal purpose. The following types of conduct can be corroborative of the actor's criminal purpose:

1. lying in wait, searching for, or following the contemplated victim of the crime;

2. enticing or seeking to entice the contemplated victim of the crime to go to the place contemplated for its commission;

3. reconnoitering the place contemplated for the commission of the crime;

4. unlawful entry of a structure, vehicle, or enclosure in which it is contemplated that the crime will be committed;

5. possession of materials to be employed in the commission of the crime, which are specially designed for such unlawful use or which can serve no lawful purpose of the actor under the circumstances;

6. possession, collection, or fabrication of materials to be employed in the commission of the crime at or near the place contemplated for its commission, where such possession, collection or fabrication serves no lawful purpose under the circumstances; or

7. soliciting an innocent agent to engage in conduct constituting an element of the crime.

When the actor's conduct would otherwise constitute an attempt, it is a defense that he abandoned his effort to commit the crime or otherwise prevented its commission, under circumstances showing a complete and voluntary renunciation of his criminal purpose.