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Hostage-taking and extortion

Hostage-taking and extortion


Hostage-taking is punishable under Article 282a of the Dutch Criminal Code and must be distinguished from intentional unlawful deprivation of liberty (punishable under Article 282 of the Dutch Criminal Code). The difference is that there is no need for a specific purpose in the case of intentional unlawful deprivation of liberty, whereas this is the case with hostage-taking. In this context the law speaks of 'the intention of forcing someone else to do or not do something'. Furthermore, the law states that it is also punishable for someone to offer the hostage-taker a place to hold another person hostage.

Hostage seekers can be punished with a prison sentence of 15 years at most. When the hostage situation results in death, even a life sentence can follow. Whether such penalties are ultimately imposed depends on the circumstances of the case and cannot be predicted in advance.


The extortion of another is punishable under article 317 of the Dutch Criminal Code. Extortion means forcing someone to deliver any good (for example money) or (computer) data due to violence or threat of violence. In order to be able to prove extortion, it must be established that the extortionist intends to favor himself. Even if the extortionist intends to favor another, a judicial finding of fact for extortion can follow. Furthermore, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands has determined that the extortionist can also be sentenced in the event that he or she was entitled (or believed to be) to be paid a certain amount but his/her actions have exceeded the limits of what is socially acceptable. In principle, the maximum penalty for extortion is nine years. In the event of aggravating circumstances (co-perpetrating or serious physical injury), the maximum sentence is 12 years and 15 years in prison if death follows upon the extortion.

If you are suspected of being involved in similar offenses, we advise you to contact one of our lawyers as soon as possible.