When a parent takes a child without permission it’s commonly called parental kidnapping or false imprisonment of a minor. But in California, it’s referred to as child abduction.

How Is Child Abduction Defined in California?

Child abduction is defined as the enticing away, malicious taking, withholding, concealing, or keeping any minor with the intent to conceal them from their legal custodian.

Is a Non-Custodial Parent the Only One Who Can Commit Child Abduction?

No. Child abduction can be committed by a relative or acquaintance. In essence, the abductor is a person who does not have legal custody over the child. The most common type of abduction is done by a parent without custody, in violation of child custody orders.

Is Kidnapping the Same as Child Abduction in California?

No. Kidnapping involves taking an individual by threat of force or fear, a substantial distance from their home without their permission.

When is Taking My Child Not Child Abduction?

In certain situations, a child may be detained or taken in violation with a custody order. For example, the parent has a good faith reasonable belief that if the child is left with another individual there could be immediate emotional and/or bodily harm. However, the parent should always contact a lawyer for legal advice before attempting to detain their child.

What Is The Punishment for Child Abduction in California?

A child abduction conviction in the state is considered a “wobbler.” A wobbler can be either a misdemeanor or felony conviction, depending on the defendant’s history and surrounding circumstances.

If a defendant is convicted of misdemeanor child abduction, they can face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 1 year in jail. If the defendant is convicted of felony child abduction, they can face a fine of up to $10,000 and 2 to 4 years in jail.

Should I Talk to a Criminal Lawyer?

Yes. Talk to a California lawyer if you’ve been accused of abducting a minor in California.