Social Question

meagan's avatar

Can a kidnapped person sue their kidnapper?

Asked by meagan (4640 points ) May 16th, 2011

Last night I was watching some MSNBC special about women who had been kidnapped, escaped, and the man was captured.
Even though he was sentenced to prison—what happens after that? Can the victims actually sue?

It seems silly to me that you can sue someone for emotional distress in small claims court, but you don’t hear about people suing for far more important situations.

Is it possible for this to happen?

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12 Answers

poisonedantidote's avatar

I know nothing about the day to day workings of law, but I would expect lawyers would some how work in some damages costs or something, some kind of compensation.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Possible? Maybe; quite possibly. Thing is, any court case is going to be long and painful, and in civil cases, neither party has the right to a speedy trial. So suing them for a few bucks (kidnappers usually aren’t corporations, they don’t have 7 million dollars to give in damages) really isn’t worth it. And even if you do get money, it can help, but it won’t fix everything, it won’t make it so it never happened, and it won’t make it ok.

lillycoyote's avatar

It’s not that easy to get awarded emotional distress in small claims court. I suppose part of the reason is what @MyNewtBoobs has mentioned and generally, hopefully, criminal matters settled in criminal court and civil matters are settled in civil court. That’s generally the best way I think. There are enough lawsuits in this country, IMHO without everyone who is the victim of a crime then suing the perpetrator. It clogs up the courts trying to get some kind of monetary compensation from someone who has nothing and is now in jail and has no income.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Legally you can but if they are in jail or prison, it will be next to impossible to collect the judgement.

In most cases, that makes it not worth the effort or expense needed to win.

weeveeship's avatar

Of course! The victim needs to bring a civil case.

Civil Case (victim vs. kidnapper):
False imprisonment
Assault/Battery (if force used to do kidnapping)
Emotional damages in some situations

Can recover compensatory damages and punitive damages (i.e. $$$)

Criminal Case (state vs. kidnapper)
Criminal Kidnapping
Perhaps Assault/Battery

No $$ here from kidnapper to victim. If convicted, kidnapper will likely go to jail.

meiosis's avatar

In the UK you can sue an offender for the wrongs they have perpetrated. Given that the burden of proof in a civil court is ‘on the balance of probabilities’ as opposed to the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ required in a criminal case, it can be easier to obtain redress against an offender through the civil courts.

“It clogs up the courts trying to get some kind of monetary compensation from someone who has nothing and is now in jail and has no income”

I seem to recall after I was burgled that, far from having nothing, the little scrote who broke into my house had my telly, my stereo, my money, my watch etc., not to mention my sense of security and ease in my home

lillycoyote's avatar

@meiosis I believe that was directed at me. Trust me, I was the victim of an assault where much more was taken from me than the things you mention, but just try getting your telly, stereo, money, watch, sense of security and ease in your home back from a judgement in a civil court. Good luck.

meiosis's avatar

@lillycoyote It would be absurd to try and get that back from the civil courts. However, a sense of some justice served would be nice, as opposed to the little scrote getting off scot-free.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@meiosis Are you willing to pay an attorney $300 per hour and spend your time to bring the case to trail? Is that throwing good money after bad?

Make his life miserable in other ways. And as Forest Gump says: “That’s all I’m going to say about that.’

meiosis's avatar

@worriedguy No, but I think that legal aid should be given to the victim, not just to the perpetrator as at present.

lillycoyote's avatar

@meiosis Legal aid, of a sort, is, most certainly, given to the victims. The State prosecutes the case on behalf of the victim and that “legal aid” consists of the time and effort of the police spent gathering evidence against the perpetrator of the crime. the defendant, and the time and effort of one or more of the State’s attorney’s working to prosecute the case against the defendant.

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