This question has been induced by this news where the police is apparently searching for a driver who asked a 16-year-old lady to get into his car.

The age of consent in New Zealand is 16, therefore it would not have been a crime for an adult to date her. On the face of it, there was no force involved: he asked, she rejected and walked away — something that routinely happens all the time. Were there any laws broken?


As the answers and comments point out, the news article may well be omitting details/evidence that would affect whether any laws were broken. However, this question does not aim to find out whether any laws were broken in that particular incident. It aims to discuss a hypothetical case where all that happened is what described in the article, nothing more nothing less. Specifically, let's assume:

  1. A guy in his 30s-40s driving a car stops by a 16-year-old girl and asks for directions;
  2. He then asks her inappropriate questions;
  3. Finally, he opens the passenger door and asks her to get in;
  4. The girl quickly walks away.

At no point the guy threatens or tries to force her in, and at no point she has to "fight back" as the police communicates what happened.

  • 1
    For background: The article says "A man driving a white SUV type vehicle approached her and asked for directions before asking her inappropriate questions. The man then opened the passenger door and asked her to get in." And the whole situation is treated as attempted abduction.
    – gnasher729
    Jan 8, 2019 at 20:23
  • 1
    @gnasher729 Yes I see how the whole situation is treated, hence the question. Whilst the man indeed could abduct the girl should she get in (so, in theory, he could rape, kill etc. etc.), the situation falls short of sufficient evidence of attempted abduction because there were no threats or force (at least the article does not mention any). He could be simply impertinently taking his chances for consensual good time together.
    – Greendrake
    Jan 8, 2019 at 21:26
  • 1
    "to ask a young lady to get in" depends so much on the context. Suppose the lady was asking for directions, and the driver said "I'm heading in that direction; get in and I'll take you there." Then this is not an attempt at kidnapping. But if the details were different, it could be seen as one. The age of consent has nothing to do with kidnapping.
    – Brandin
    Jan 9, 2019 at 7:39
  • 1
    @Brandin can you give an example of details where no threats/force used but it is still an attempt at kidnapping?
    – Greendrake
    Jan 9, 2019 at 8:10
  • @Greendrake You could tell untruths to a person in order to convince someone to come into your car, with the intention of kidnapping that person. This would not involve force and it would not be a threat.
    – Brandin
    Jan 9, 2019 at 9:14

2 Answers 2


Were there any laws broken?

That will be a matter for the judge and the jury.

However, in the total context, there are certainly grounds for charges to be laid:

209 Kidnapping

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years who unlawfully takes away or detains a person without his or her consent or with his or her consent obtained by fraud or duress,—

(a) with intent to hold him or her for ransom or to service; or

(b) with intent to cause him or her to be confined or imprisoned; or

(c) with intent to cause him or her to be sent or taken out of New Zealand.


72 Attempts

(1) Every one who, having an intent to commit an offence, does or omits an act for the purpose of accomplishing his or her object, is guilty of an attempt to commit the offence intended, whether in the circumstances it was possible to commit the offence or not.

(2) The question whether an act done or omitted with intent to commit an offence is or is not only preparation for the commission of that offence, and too remote to constitute an attempt to commit it, is a question of law.

(3) An act done or omitted with intent to commit an offence may constitute an attempt if it is immediately or proximately connected with the intended offence, whether or not there was any act unequivocally showing the intent to commit that offence.

Offering someone a lift is not a crime. Offering someone a lift after asking them "inappropriate questions" may very well be.

  • 1
    I can't see how the "intent to commit an offence" element can be proved here to justify laying charges. Having asked inappropriate questions and offering a lift does not prove the intent to abduct, certainly not beyond reasonable doubt.
    – Greendrake
    Jan 8, 2019 at 2:12
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    @Greendrake it’s possible, maybe even likely, that the crown prosecutor will put forward more evidence than a reporter does.
    – Dale M
    Jan 8, 2019 at 3:28
  • "Offering someone a lift is not a crime": it is if it is done with the intent to commit an offense, even if there were no inappropriate questions.
    – phoog
    Jan 8, 2019 at 16:18
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    @phoog This question is basically about whether it was just to presume that the man indeed had criminal intentions, as opposed to being merely impertinent and opportunistic.
    – Greendrake
    Jan 8, 2019 at 21:42
  • @Greendrake so it’s about justice and therefore not a legal question then
    – Dale M
    Jan 8, 2019 at 23:33

Well, it depends on the jurisdiction and overall circumstances. If you try to do that in Dubai, you may spent some relevant time in jail. If you do in Russia, or Eastern Europe, most likely nothing would occur, if the additional circumstances do not show any other criminal offense in the stadium of an attempt, e.g. kidnapping, attempted robbery, trafficking, etc. The age is also relevant, if the person is considered to be a minor (in most jurisdictions age below 18 defines a minor), the authorities of a western country would probably try to interpret it as an attempted kidnapping, unless the circumstances provide doubts.

  • 1
    In Western countries, what laws make it a kidnapping just because the person is a minor?
    – Greendrake
    Jan 8, 2019 at 21:31
  • @Greendrake In Western Countries, attempted kidnapping is being treated as accomplished kidnapping. The fact that the approached person is a minor indicates that the kidnapping attempt was perfected, since there is hardly other reason for approaching a minor and asking it to get to the car indicated.
    – Codigo
    Jan 10, 2019 at 17:46

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