Thanks to Amber Alerts and around-the-clock news networks, it often feels like kids are abducted every day. Movies and TV shows would have you believe that these children are all captured by child molesters and criminals looking for hostages, but the reality is that most abducted children are actually taken by relatives during some kind of custody issue. Because these cases are so emotional, it is critical anyone facing child abduction charges contact an Escondido criminal lawyer immediately.
Kidnapping Vs. Child Abduction
Most people think that kidnappings and child abduction are the same, but while they can overlap in some cases, the crimes are defined differently under California law according to Escondido criminal lawyer Peter Liss. Kidnapping involves the transportation of someone against their will through the use of force or fear or, if they were under 14, the use of fraud. While most kidnappings involving children also involve child abductions, not all child abductions are kidnappings as many of these abductions do not involve force, fear or fraud and the child often comes willingly. This ties in with the fact that most children are abducted by someone they know.
Two Types of Child Abductions
The law defines two types of child abduction, also called child stealing. The first, known as child abduction without custodial right, is when a child is taken by someone who does not have custody, which may include a relative, friend or stranger. The second type, known as child abduction with custodial right or parental child abduction, occurs when someone with custody maliciously takes, withholds or conceals a child from another person with legal custody or visitation rights. In other words, if someone takes a child they have no custody over, they have committed the first type of child abduction, but if they have custody and prevent another person with custody or visitation rights from seeing the child, they have committed the second.
As you can imagine, the defenses for these two forms of child stealing are drastically different. In many cases, these charges arise from a simple misunderstanding about who has custody. In other situations, a parent or loved one can argue that they abducted the child to protect him or her from an abusive situation in the home of the person who does have legal custody (that could mean that parent, his or her partner or even a roommate or other person in the home could be abusive). If you have been accused of abducting a child, with or without custody, it is critical you talk to a top Escondido criminal lawyer as soon as possible.
Penalties for Child Abductions
Both types of child abductions can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. As a misdemeanor, they are punishable by up to one year in jail. Felony parental abduction is punishable by up to three years in prison, whereas abduction without custodial right is punishable by up to four years in prison.
If you have been accused of this serious crime, Escondido criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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