What is the California Law on Parental Kidnapping?

Parental Kidnapping is also known as “child abduction.” The offense is also commonly referred to as “child stealing” or “detainment or concealment of a child from legal custodian.”

The California Law on Parental Kidnapping is written in the California Penal Code Section  278. The California definition  of “child” means a person under the age of 18 years and the “ lawful custodian” means  a person, guardian, or public agency having a right to custody of a child.  You can be charged with  Parental Kidnapping if you do not have a right to custody and you maliciously take, entice away, keep, withhold, or conceal any child with the intent to detain or conceal that child from a lawful custodian.

California Penal Code Section  278

278.  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 by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year,
a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both that
fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h)
of Section 1170 for two, three, or four years, a fine not exceeding
ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both that fine and imprisonment.

Parental Kidnapping is very closely related to California’s Kidnapping Law (Penal Code 207).   The important difference to Parental Kidnapping  is that it is considered a crime against the parent as well as the kidnapped child.  And the Parental Kidnapping Law does not require that you move or transport the child, only that you intend to detain or conceal the child from his/her legal custodian.

Penalties for a Parental Kidnapping Charge

Penal Code 278 PC is a wobbler.  This means that prosecutors may charge the offense as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If convicted as a misdemeanor,  you face up to one year in a county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. If convicted as a felony,  you face up to four years in the California state prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. You will also be required to reimburse the victim and/or prosecuting agency for any reasonable costs they incurred for attempting to locate and return the child.

If you are a non-custodial parent accused of parental kidnapping, you need to contact an experienced San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney right away to protect your rights. Call the Law Office of Elliott N. Kanter today at 619-330-5881 or use our secure online case review form.  We will respond without delay. We are here to help you.

This article is for educational and marketing purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship.