In California, many people each year are charged with a serious crime for simply taking their sons and daughters out for a hamburger and a soda.
The crime is “child abduction.” The laws governing child abduction and its punishment are generally found in California Penal Code §§ 277 through 279.6. In order for the prosecutor to prove that a parent is guilty of the crime of child abduction against his or her own child, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant (took[,]/ [or] enticed away[,]/ [or] kept[,]/ [or] withheld[,]/ [or] concealed) a child;
- The child was under the age of 18; AND
- When the defendant acted, (he/she) maliciously (deprived a lawful custodian of (his/her/its) right to custody/ [or] deprived a person of a lawful right to visitation).
Sentences for child abduction
In child abduction cases involving an abduction by a custodial person the prosecutors can choose to file charges either as a misdemeanor or a felony. Sentences can range from probation, to one year in a county jail or up to 3 years in prison. Non-custodial persons convicted of child abduction can be sentenced to probation or up to 4 years in prison.
Defending yourself against child abduction charges
If you’re charged with child abduction, the first thing you want to do is to contact the San Mateo criminal defense lawyers at Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law. We are experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyers — who may be able to defend you by:
- Showing that you did not maliciously take the child. The first thing a prosecutor has to prove when charging you with child abduction is that you took the child with the intent to disturb, defraud, annoy, or injure someone else. But, in reality, you may not have intended to harm anyone. You just wanted to spend a great day with the child.
- Proving that the person from whom you took the child did not actually have legal custody. Child custody cases can be messy. Sometimes a person thinks he or she has legal custody of a child when, in fact, they do not. A good criminal defense attorney will be able to do the research, sort out the facts, and prove that the person from which you took the child did not actually have legal custody. In fact, it is possible that you had a legal right to be with the child.
- Proving that you are the victim of false accusations. Going through a divorce and dealing with child custody issues are among the most stressful experiences a person can ever go through. Sometimes, people become angry and spiteful. They use the legal system and law enforcement as a weapon.
Each year in California, many people are accused of child abduction by their ex’s, former lovers and people who just want to get them in trouble. Of course law enforcement officers have a legal duty to society to follow up on these accusations. At Ahmed & Sukaram, our San Jose criminal defense attorneys may be able to prove that you are the victim of false accusations, clear your record and ensure that you still are able to see your son or daughter.
Finding the right criminal defense lawyer
Child abduction charges are serious. They can ruin your reputation, send you to jail or prison, and keep you from ever seeing your son or daughter again. At Ahmed and Sukaram, we are committed to proving your innocence, protecting your rights and keeping you in touch with your children.