This week, our Fairy Tale Law blog series is focusing on the story of Hansel and Gretel and the crimes of the villainous stepmother.
Hansel and Gretel live in the forest deep in the Minnesota Northwoods with their father, a woodcutter. Their mother died long ago, and their father had since remarried. Of course, the woodcutter loved his children more than anyone. This angered the second wife to no end, and she resented the children for the love and attention their father showed them.
One summer, a terrible famine fell over the land. Food was scarce for everyone in the Northwoods, but especially for the woodcutter and his family. The stepmother thought that things would be better if there were fewer mouths to feed, and so she formulated a plan to get rid of Hansel and Gretel. The woodcutter protested, but after constant pressure and the pains of hunger, he finally agreed. They discussed the details and decided to take the children deep into the woods and leave them there to fend for themselves.
Unbeknownst to the woodcutter and his wife, Hansel and Gretel overhead the conversation.
The next morning, when the stepmother and the woodcutter brought the children deep into the forest again, Hansel grabbed a slice of bread. Throughout the trek, Hansel secretly dropped the breadcrumbs behind him. When they were very deep in the woods, the parents abandoned them. When Hansel and Gretel tried to follow the trail of bred crumbs back out of the woods, they found that the birds had eaten the breadcrumbs and that they were hopelessly lost.
They wandered through the woods for days until they happened upon an old cottage made entirely of sweets. The children were starving, so they began to eat the gingerbread roof. An old woman opens the doors and invites the children inside with the promise of soft beds and delicious food. The children reveled in their luck that night.
However, things took a turn for the worst the next morning. The old woman–who turned out to be an evil witch–locked Hansel in an iron cage and made Gretel her house slave. The witch fed Hansel constantly to fatten him up, but because she was blind, she could not see the progress. Instead, she made him stick his finger from the cage to feel the fatness.
Clever Hansel found an old bone in the cage, and offered that to the witch every morning instead of his finger. For weeks, the witch thinks that Hansel is too thin to eat until she became too impatient and decided to eat him anyways.
While getting the oven ready, the witch decided that she was hungry enough to eat Gretel too and asked her to lean over the oven to see that the fire is hot enough. Gretel senses the witches plan, and pretends she does not know what is being asked of her. Frustrated, the witch demonstrates and Gretel promptly pushes her into the fire and closes the over door.
Gretel freed Hansel from the cage and in the witch’s house, they discovered a vast treasure trove filled with precious stones and jewels. They catch a ride on a swan back to their father’s house, where they find that the stepmother has been arrested and is in jail awaiting trial on charges of kidnapping and attempted murder.
In Minnesota, kidnapping is a serious felony offense. If the victim is eventually released in a safe place without great bodily harm, the offender may be sentenced to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $35,000. If the victim is not released in a safe place or sustains great bodily harm during the course of the kidnapping, the offender could be sentenced to 40 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.
The constitution guarantees all citizens the right to a criminal defense attorney. Everyone should exercise that right, even a villainous stepmother. If you are facing criminal charges in Minnesota, contact an experienced MN criminal defense attorney right away.