When we think of child abduction, we often picture a stranger taking a child away. However, child abduction can also be committed by parents or family members who do not have the right to custody. This is a serious crime against the child’s legal guardians. In Los Angeles, child abduction is a violation of Penal Code 278 and can result in either misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the circumstances.
If you are facing charges, it is crucial to seek immediate legal help from a criminal defense lawyer. Contact Tabibnia Law Firm today at (866) 713-2159 to start building your defense strategy with a skilled attorney like Cyrus Tabibnia. Remember to exercise your right to remain silent and let a professional handle your case.
What is Child Abduction in California?
Child abduction under California Penal Code 278, refers to the intentional act of taking, enticing, keeping, or withholding a minor from their legal custodian with the malicious intent to conceal or detain the child. It is important to note that the person carrying out this act has no legal right to have custody or control over the child.
The law specifically targets individuals who are closely related to the child, such as parents who have been denied custody or have limited access through a court-issued child custody order, step-parents, or other family members.
- A divorced father, who does not have parental rights, visitation rights, or any legally granted child custody, takes the child to his home without informing the concerned parties. This act is considered parental kidnapping.
- A child’s aunt takes her niece from school and drives her to her own home, intending to hide the action from the child’s parents.
- A distant relative takes a child to a different country to keep the child hidden from the parents.
Key Elements of Child Abduction Crime Los Angeles
The prosecution has the responsibility to present evidence and prove these aspects beyond a reasonable doubt in order to secure a conviction for child abduction. The courts require the prosecution to establish the following as true:
- You intentionally and wrongfully took, enticed away, kept, or concealed a child from their legal custodian. This includes engaging in actions that involve deceiving, disturbing, annoying, or causing harm to another individual.
- It must be proven that the child involved in the case was under the age of 18.
- The prosecution must demonstrate that you did not have a legal right to custody of the child. This means that you did not possess the lawful authority or permission to have custody or control over the child.
- It needs to be shown that you acted with the specific intention to detain or hide the child from their legal custodian. The legal custodian is an individual who has the right to custody and the responsibility to care for and control the child. This custodial right can arise through operation of the law or by court order.
Criminal Penalties For Child Abduction
Child abduction is a serious crime in California, and the penalties associated with it can have severe consequences that can negatively impact your life. The specific penalties for child abduction can vary depending on the circumstances of the case and your prior criminal record.
If charged as a misdemeanor, a conviction for child abduction may result in the following penalties:
- Up to one year in jail of Los Angeles County
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Both jail time and a fine
If charged as a felony, the penalties for child abduction can 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 penalties
Additionally, a conviction for child abduction may also require the defendant to pay restitution to the victim and any costs incurred in locating and retrieving the child, as deemed reasonable by the court.
Speak With Los Angeles Child Abduction Attorney For Legal Defense
Being charged with child abduction can have devastating consequences on your reputation and future. The penalties can include substantial fines, imprisonment, and a permanent felony record that can severely limit your employment prospects. Do not face these charges without putting up a strong fight. Our highly regarded criminal defense attorney at Tabibnia Law Firm, Cyrus, is equipped to help you.
Cyrus will work diligently to have the charges reduced or dismissed through a pre-filing intervention before the case is brought to trial. If the case does proceed to trial, he will provide dedicated representation. It is important to note that the outcome of the case will depend on the specific facts and circumstances surrounding your situation. Reach out to Tabibnia Law Firm and schedule a free case assessment so that Cyrus can discuss your options and provide you with guidance tailored to your case.