District Attorney Investigators are assigned to investigate allegations of Child Abduction. Child Abduction is defined as "…taking, enticing away, keeping, withholding or concealing a child…" 278.5 Penal Code (PC). Child Abduction can be committed both by parents and by non-parents. Child Abduction is defined in sections 277 - 280 PC. An individual who violates the terms of a court order may be charged with violation of a court order 166.4 PC or with 278.5 PC.
Examples of Child Abduction:
Mom and Dad are divorced. The court has issued a custody order giving Mom custody of the children and Dad the right to visit. Mom withholds or keeps the children from Dad denying him his rights to visitation. MOM HAS BROKEN THE LAW and could go to jail! The same rules apply to anyone who denies a lawful right to custody or visitation.
Mom and Dad have a custody order giving Dad primary custody. Dad decides he wants to move to Arizona. If Dad moves without first going to court and having the custody/visitation order changed to allow for his relocation, Dad may be GUILTY OF CHILD ABDUCTION if the move with the child means that Mom's contact with the child is changed.
The initial report of a child abduction or of a violation of a family court order is often taken by the local police officer or deputy sheriff. However, the Child Abduction Unit of the District Attorney's Office is charged with the responsibility to investigate allegations of child abduction. Referrals are sent to the District Attorney's office from other law enforcement agencies.
The primary mission of the investigators working in the Child Abduction Unit is locating and often returning the child. It is not uncommon for the Child Abduction Investigators to recover children who are far from Shasta County. Cases will also be evaluated for filing of criminal charges.
Abducted Children Recovery FAQ
What Do I do If My child Is Abducted?
Answer: File a police report immediately and provide the police in a copy of your most recent custody/visitation order signed by a judge.
If there is no court order, contact a lawyer or legal clinic right away for help in getting a custody order from the court. Ask the law enforcement officer to enter your child in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer system as a missing person. Call or email the Shasta County District Attorney Child Abduction Unit at (530) 225-5483 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also be assisted by a children's organization such as the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children (www.missingkids.com) at 1-800 843-5678
Can a Family Member Abduct his/her Own Child?
Answer: Yes! In fact the majority of abductions are committed by a mother, father, grandparent, or other relative. If you think that a family member who improperly takes his or her child is not breaking the law, you are wrong. CHILD ABDUCTION, EVEN BY A FAMILY MEMBER, IS A FELONY punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Answer: Yes. A child may be kept away from the other parent or person with visitation or custody rights if that person is harmful to the child. If you think that taking or keeping a child in violation of the terms of a custody or visitation order would be justified for the safety of you or the child, you should call the Shasta County District Attorney at (530) 225-5483. BE AWARE, however, that if you don't really have a valid reason for taking or keeping the child, you could face charges of child abduction.
What If My Child Is Taken To Another State, Or Even Another country. Can I Still Get help From the District Attorney's Child Abduction Unit?
Answer: Yes. The Child Abduction Unit will take measures to locate your child and have your child returned.
I have a court order but I am still having problems with my custody or visitation rights what can I do?
Answer: Your court order must be clearly written , explaining visitation periods - preferably including days and times for visits. You can then make a report to you local police agency and provide them with a complete copy of your most current Court Order signed by the judge. Provide the Child Abduction Unit with the police or sheriff's report number and also a current copy of your Court Order. If your court order is not specific and contains terms such as "reasonable visitation", go back to court to have your order modified.
How can I apply for a court order for custody or visitation?
Answer: Hire an attorney, contact the Family Court, or call the Child Abduction Unit for a brochure.