The unlawful act of taking an individual without their consent either through fraud or force is called kidnapping. Washington State has separate categories for different types of kidnapping. This includes a law against parental kidnapping.

What is Parental Kidnapping?

Parental kidnapping is the unlawful taking of a minor child without the consent of the other parent. The kidnapping may be carried out with either force or fraud.

How is Parental Kidnapping Defined in Washington State?

Washington State defines a parental kidnapping as custodial interference in the first degree. It occurs when a child’s relative take, entices, retrains, detains, or conceals the child from their parent(s) or legal guardian. It also includes denying access to the minor. The accused also has to:

  • Expose the minor to substantial risk of illness or physical harm;
  • Intend to permanently take the minor or keep them for a specific time;
  • Remove the child from Washington or their residence; or
  • Detain, retain, or conceal the minor from the parent or guardian by taking them to another state with the intent to harass or intimidate the parent

Does the Defendant Have to be a Parent to Commit Custodial Interference?

No. A relative that is not a parent can be accused of custodial interference in the first degree. Washington State considers a “relative” as:

  • Sibling
  • Ancestor
  • Descendant

The individual can also be a relative through a spouse, by adoption, or marriage.

What is the Punishment for Custodial Interference in the First Degree?

This crime is a class C felony. It means, if convicted, the defendant can face up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Should I Hire a Criminal Lawyer to Help Me with My Case?

Yes. Contact a Washington criminal lawyer to learn more about your rights and possible defenses.