The Legal Difference Between Unlawful Confinement, Abduction, and Kidnapping in BC

March 24th, 2024
The Legal Difference Between Unlawful Confinement, Abduction, and Kidnapping in BC

Kidnapping, Abduction, and Unlawful or Forcible Confinement are similar but slightly different and related offences in BC and elsewhere in Canada. They are all federal offences defined in the Criminal Code of Canada. In today’s blog article, we are going to briefly discuss these three related offences.

Forcible Confinement

Forcible or unlawful confinement is holding someone against his or her will and/or preventing them from leaving a specific area. The confinement can be physical, or it could be with coercion or threat or threats of violence. Forcible confinement can be an indictable offence, or it can be treated with a summary conviction depending on the circumstances. This type of offence is not unusual in circumstances where there is a history of domestic violence.


Kidnapping is forcible confinement with the added qualification of moving the victim from one place to another. Often, but not always, ransom is involved. The movement of the victim could be across town, across provinces, or across international borders. All kidnappings include forcible confinement, but not all forcible confinements would qualify as a kidnapping.

The law views kidnapping as more serious than forcible confinement, so kidnapping is always an indictable offence with very serious penalties.


Abduction in Canada is viewed legally as a special type of kidnapping, that of a parent taking a child away from another parent. Intent is important here because the most serious type of abduction is that which is intended to prevent a parent to have access to a child. Often this type of crime is committed by a non-custodial parent in order to take a child away from a custodial parent. Whether or not the child goes along willingly plays no role in the prosecution of the crime.

Keep in mind that when someone is charged with one of these offences noted above, there may be other charges, for example, if weapons are used in the commission of a crime or if the victim is a child or if the victim is injured during the commission of the crime. Since these crimes are all federal offences, they are governed by federal law in all provinces and territories and would be handled similarly whether committed in BC or not.

If you have been charged with any of the crimes noted above, please contact Gagan Nahal for a free consultation in Vancouver at (604) 527-4769 as soon as possible. Mr. Nahal’s law practice focuses on criminal defence law, and he has extensive experience in this area of the law.

Gagan Nahal is a criminal defence lawyer based in Surrey, British Columbia, although he has represented clients across Canada. He works vigorously and tirelessly defending his clients.

If you have any questions about this article or you would like to talk to Mr. Nahal, please call him directly at (604) 527-4769.