Ransom Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Ransom, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Ransom?

(n) Ransom is the money or compensation demanded by the person who has illegitimately detained a person or article for reliving such person or returning such articles

History and Meaning of Ransom

The term "ransom" has been around for centuries and has been used to describe the payment or compensation demanded by a person or group that has illegitimately detained someone or something. In ancient times, kidnapping was a common occurrence, and a ransom was often demanded to secure the release of the victim. Today, ransom is still used in a similar context, although it may also refer to the payment demanded by hackers who have taken control of someone's data or computer files.

Examples of Ransom

  1. When a person is kidnapped, their family may be contacted and demanded to pay a ransom in exchange for their release.
  2. A company may be forced to pay a ransom to hackers who have taken control of their computer systems and threatened to release sensitive information unless they are compensated.
  3. In some instances, a ransom may be paid to retrieve stolen cultural artifacts or artwork that have been taken and held by thieves.
  4. Pirate attacks on shipping vessels have led to instances where a ransom is demanded in exchange for the release of the ship and crew.

Legal Terms Similar to Ransom

  1. Extortion - the act of obtaining something through force or threats, which may include the demand for payment of a ransom.
  2. Kidnapping - the crime of taking a person against their will and holding them captive, often for the purposes of obtaining a ransom.
  3. Blackmail - a form of extortion in which a person threatens to reveal embarrassing or damaging information unless they are paid a sum of money.