Los Angeles Child Abduction Attorneys
A parent’s love for their children knows no bounds. When a child is maliciously taken by someone with no right to do so, there’s no question that a crime has been committed. Unlike kidnapping (which is a crime against the victim), child abduction is a crime against the parents or legal custodians of a child. Under the constitution, you are innocent until proven guilty – but when charged with child abduction, it won’t feel that way. In any case involving children, the full force of the law will be brought to bear.
A conviction on charges of child abduction can lead to years in state prison, fines, and restitution. If you are facing criminal charges of child abduction, you need a criminal defense lawyer immediately, as a conviction will dramatically change the course of your life. Exercise your right to remain silent and retain an experienced criminal defense attorney so your defense strategy can be formulated and executed.
Child abduction is defined in California Penal Code 278 PC, which states:
“Every person, not having a right to custody, who maliciously takes, entices away, keeps, withholds, or conceals any child with the intent to detain or conceal that child from a lawful custodian shall be punished…”
Unlike kidnapping, child abduction is a crime against the lawful custodian of a child. Fully understanding this crime and its defense requires an understanding of the elements of the crime:
- “not having a right to custody”: For this crime to have been committed, you must have no legal right to custody. Parents and other legal guardians cannot be convicted of this crime.
- “maliciously”: There must be a degree of malice, meaning intent to annoy, harm, injure, or otherwise damage in some way.
- “takes, entices away, keeps, withholds, or conceals”: The child must be removed and then withheld or concealed from their lawful custodians. Whether the child goes willingly or is forced is irrelevant, as this crime is against the lawful custodians – not the child.
- “with the intent to detain or conceal that child from a lawful custodian”: The crime must involve the intent to delay or prevent the child from returning to their lawful custodian. Note that this is an intent – it doesn’t matter if you did or not, only that you intended to do so.
Child abduction can be charged individually or in addition to other criminal charges such as kidnapping, loitering at a school, or others.
Child abduction can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony based on the circumstances and your prior criminal record. As a misdemeanor, a conviction of child abduction carries the following penalties:
- Up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Both the jail time and fine
As a felony, the penalties for child abduction include:
- Probation and up to one year in prison
- Two, three, or four years in a state prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Any combination of the above
Any conviction of child abduction may also require the defendant to pay restitution to the victim and anyone acting on the victim’s behalf for costs reasonably incurred in locating and retrieving the child.
There are several valid defenses for child abduction charges, including:
- You had legal custody over the child in question, either as a parent or someone granted legal custody by a court.
- You had good intentions for your actions, such as taking the child out of an environment you know to be abusive or dangerous. For this defense to be valid, you must have acted in such a way to corroborate this story, such as calling child services or the police once the child was safe.
- There was no malicious intent and simply made a mistake doing something you thought was right and good for the child.
- That the charge is false, and the child was never abducted. In cases of severe parental dispute, it is not uncommon for a parent to make false accusations about the other in an effort to gain full custody.
Charges of child abduction can destroy your good name and ruin your life. The penalties imposed can include hefty fines, prison time, and a felony on your criminal record that will destroy your opportunities for employment. Don’t let this happen to you without fighting with everything you’ve got – there is a good chance that our award-winning criminal defense attorneys at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP can craft an effective defense strategy – the first step is to meet with us. Our team of seasoned criminal trial attorneys has the skills, experience, and talent you want on your side. Call us today at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free consultation.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.