San Diego Kidnapping Defense Attorneys

Kidnapping is a commonly misunderstood crime. It need not be done by a stranger to the child -- parents who are not obeying custody and visitation arrangements can also be arrested for kidnapping.

Defense attorney Timothy J. Richardson, of San Diego Criminal Defense, can meet with people arrested for kidnapping in a free confidential initial consultation to discuss the law and how it affects them. Contact us to set up an appointment.

California Kidnapping Laws

Under California law, kidnapping is an aggravated form of false imprisonment. It usually involves the transportation or concealment of the person. Aggravated kidnapping can include:

  • The kidnapping of a child
  • Kidnapping for ransom
  • Kidnapping for the purpose of committing another crime (such as forcing the kidnapped person to commit robbery)
  • Kidnapping for the purpose of committing a sexual crime
  • Kidnapping with the intent of harming the person.

Parental Kidnapping and Custodial Interference

A parent can be prosecuted for kidnapping his or her own child or otherwise interfering with the custody or visitation rights of the other parent. It doesn't matter which parent has legal custody; if a parent conceals his or her child with the intent of depriving the other parent of custody or visitation rights, he or she can be prosecuted for a crime.

If there is not yet a court order determining custody and visitation rights -- for example, during divorce proceedings or before formal divorce -- a parent who conceals his or her child from the other parent can also be prosecuted. However, the parent can defend his or her action by showing that the child was in immediate danger of physical injury or emotional harm. A parent who takes a child under these circumstances must file a request for custody within a reasonable time in the jurisdiction where the child had been living, explaining the basis for the parent's fear that the child would be harmed. (Pen. Code § 277.)

Possible Punishments

A kidnapping parent can be prosecuted for a misdemeanor (imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, a fine of $1,000 or both) or a felony (imprisonment in a state prison for up to three years, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.) The penalties listed above apply regardless of who has custody or when the kidnapping occurs.

A child can be placed in protective custody by a police officer when the officer investigates a report of an alleged instance of child concealment or kidnapping by a parent and concludes that a parent may flee the jurisdiction with the child. (Pen. Code § 279.6)

Contact Us

To get a skilled kidnapping defense lawyer on your side, call 619.894.8595 or email us through our contact page. Our attorneys can meet with you in a free consultation during weekdays, weekends or evenings, and we have a 24-hour answering service ready to take your call.