Defining Parental Abduction: Know Your Rights

When most people think of kidnapping, they imagine a stranger; what most people do not imagine is the idea of a parent with their child. Per California Penal Code §278, however, it is considered to be child abduction for someone to take a child, entice them away or even conceal them with the willful and knowing intentions of keeping them from their legal custodian. This is not a light offense and is instead met with penalties that include a monetary fine of $1,000 and / imprisonment for a year in a county jail. It can also result in incarceration in state prison for two, three or four years and / or a fine of $10,000 depending on the circumstances.

Just this month, a Mason County, MI man was arrested for parental kidnapping after taking four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. The defendant, initials M.A.M., was 52-years-old and had been suspected after failing to show up at a custody hearing where it was believed he could potentially lost custody. He then allegedly fled with his children to Florida and has since been detained and arrested. Unfortunately, stories such as this are not uncommon; in fact, statistics show that kidnapping in America is predominantly done by family members as opposed to non-relatives.

It, however, can be a confusing area of the law and many parents are unsure of where their rights lay. For example, if there is not a Court-ordered custody plan, then what? Many people are unaware that in the absence of a custody arrangement that either parent could be charged with parental kidnapping should they take their child or be accused of concealing them from the other parent. This then becomes a much larger issue of visitation rights violations and can even become a federal offense should it cross state borders.

For those who are struggling with custody issues or who are facing a divorce and recognizing the upcoming custody battles, it is important to get the involvement of a knowledgeable San Fernando Valley family lawyer. The law is complex and without the legal assistance of an experienced attorney, you can find yourself between a rock and a hard place. It is for this reason that it is so important to get the involvement of our team here at Cutter & Lax. We know that family law is an emotionally-charged area of the law that can often bleed into many different areas of the legal spectrum – including criminal law. We have the experience and resources you need regardless of the situation you find yourself. Contact Cutter & Lax today to learn more about how we can help you or email us directly for your free case evaluation.