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Divorce, Paternity & Legal Separation: Child Abduction Laws in San Diego: 2013

In San Diego, one form of “child abduction” is defined by Penal Code Section 278. The law for San Diego is the same as the entire State of California in regards to child abduction. In summary, a person who does not have the right to custody {and this can include a court order in a divorce, legal separation of paternity}, who maliciously entices away, takes withholds, keeps or conceals any child in San Diego County and has the intent to conceal or detain that child from their lawful custodian is a crime. A child abduction can also be by a non related party as well.

In San Diego, the punishment may be include conviction of a criminal offense, terms and conditions of probation and also imprisonment. The time in custody could be in a county jail up to 365 days if the conviction is for a misdemeanor or in state prison if convicted as a felony. Other names for child abduction are “child stealing” or “concealment or detainment of a child” from a legal custodian. It covers taking a child away with malicious intent from his or her legal guardian when you have no legal right to do so or the custody of the child. Custody could include physical care or control of the child awarded to you if, among others,:

  • You are the child’s parent and your rights have not been revoked or restricted by a court
  • The court has appointed you legal custodian through a custody order

“Child stealing”, as this is sometimes referred to is very similar to California’s Penal Code 207 PC which relates to kidnapping law. There are, however, many differences. One of them includes than kidnapping is looked upon as a crime committed against a kidnapped person but child abduction or stealing additionally could be considered a crime committed against the parent or legal guardian of the child which has been abducted.

Other Ways of Law Violation

Child abduction does not necessarily mean moving or transporting the child. You are guilty of this crime if you detain the child or conceal the child from its legal guardian.

Penalties Applicable

Penal Code 278 PC is called a “wobbler” crime which means that it is an offense which the San Diego District Attorney or San Diego City Attorney could either treat as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case and your criminal history. If the prosecutor looks on it as a misdemeanor the defendant who is sentenced could be looking at being held in custody in a county jail for a period of one year. If, however, the conviction is for a felony then the defendant could be sentenced to as much as four years in a state prison. Additionally, there would be formal probation and restitution could be requested which may include reimbursement for any reasonable costs they might have incurred in the process of looking for the child and regaining custody of it.

Doppelt and Forney, APLC

For more information on child abduction and Penal Code 278 PC, you could consult the California law firm of Doppelt and Forney, APLC located in San Diego. This is a much-respected and established family law firm which provides legal services for the whole gamut of issues relating to family law which includes, but is not restricted to, child custody, child support, visitation rights, and parenting agreements. One of the primary missions of this law firm is to ‘Help Stop Child Kidnapping’, a goal it assiduously pursues. The firm also offers a free introductory virtual consultation of 30 minutes where you can discuss your case in complete confidence.

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