A family abduction refers to the situation when a child is wrongfully taken, retained or kept hidden by a parent or other family members, which affects the visitation or custody rights of a person. In certain circumstances, federal or state family law in the US treats such abduction as a crime. Nearly, 78% of children are abducted by their own family.
Family Abduction as a Crime:
Abduction itself is a crime. Such an incident leaves a deep scar on the minds of the child for a lifetime. The parent or family member who abducts the child can incur heavy charges in case of bringing harm to the child, killing or taking the child to another country or state. State legal authorities are involved when a simple abduction occurs. But, if the perpetrator crosses the state boundaries, the case becomes of federal nature. In addition to killing, assault, injury or retention, simply taking a child without permission is considered as a crime. Although, the abductor can also engage in other illegal activities, however, a family abduction usually involves the concealment of a child from the family, home or prevention of the visitation after divorce.
Reason of the Child Abduction:
In the most general sense, family abduction happens when both spouses are battling for child custody during the procedure of divorce. The person, the mother or father, who is already losing the case and cannot win the custody of the child, attempts to abduct his or her child.
The parent who is losing the case, can abduct the child, takes to another location had retained the child there. This act, if the child custody case is still going on, can negatively affect the case to such an extent that both parents lose the custody as well as visitation rights.
Impact to Abduction on the Case:
When a person commits family abduction, he or she has to appear before the judge over the child custody case. During this phase, the judge will come to know about the past misdeeds and accordingly the judge will determine how the person can bring harm to the child if he or she is given the child custody. In case, the other parent does not earn sufficiently to provide for the child as well as the whole household, the judge may order primary and sole custody with the parent who does not have any past abduction charges or convictions; as well as the parent can support the child.
The Court’s Decision:
In the child abduction case, the decision of the court depends upon a few factors. When the parent is engaged in child abduction, he or she loses the court’s trust about doing things right for the child or following the court orders. The judge will analyze all the details of both that parents to decide what is right and in the best interest of the child.
In a few cases, the extended family can also get involved and can receive child custody, while both parents get visitation rights. Such a decision is solely based upon the criminal aspects as well as the welfare of the child.
Civil and Criminal Outcomes:
The family abductor can face criminal outcomes given the illegal activity of the child abduction. In such cases, law enforcement arrests the perpetrator, whether it is a parent or other family member.
After the arrest is made, the situation progresses to the next stage where the prosecuting attorney issues the charges and proceeds to the criminal case in the court. With the help of sufficient evidence, the abductor may face a conviction for family abduction. This can make the convicted to face jail time given the severity of the case and other factors.
Civil Consequences: The person may also face civil outcomes when he or she causes harm or injury to the child. In this case, the victim’s family can file a personal injury case. If the abductor is the parent, this can lead the judge to remove the custody or visitation rights from the culprit.
The civil court can also hold the perpetrator responsible to pay for the damages to the victim party. This decision of the court against the parent affects the custody as well as personal finances in a negative manner.
Need for Criminal Defense:
The parent or family member accused of child abduction will need a criminal defense lawyer to prove the charges as erroneous. The accused may need to employ special defense strategy stating no intention of abduction or charges based on a misunderstanding. A good criminal defense lawyer needs to work hard to protect his or her client’s rights and to prevent the outcomes of the charges.