When one parent is dissatisfied with a custody agreement, they may take it upon themselves to defy the terms of the court order. This isn't ever a good idea, but it happens often nonetheless. A very common way a custody agreement is eluded is through what's known as “parental kidnapping.”
Parental kidnapping means what it sounds like - a parent takes a child from the custody of the other parent when he or she has no privilege to do so. The rates of this crime are at an all-time high in the United States. But due to an uptick in mobility and an increase in international marriages, parental abductions are frequently happening on a national scale. International parental kidnapping occurs when one parent removes a child from the child's home country or retains a child abroad in violation of the other parent's custodial rights.
In the early stages of separation or divorce, or in the waiting period for a court custody order, it's easy for a bad decision on your part to spiral into a serious legal issue. Once a child is taken from their home state, these situation evolves from a mere custody disagreement to criminal conduct. In this article, we'll explore what constitutes international parental kidnapping in Pennsylvania, and the legal repercussions that can be imposed if you're convicted.
The International Parental Kidnapping Act
International parental kidnapping is a federal crime. The law particular addresses children whose home state is in the United States. According to federal statutes, a parent is guilty of this crime if it proven that they remove “a child from the United States, or attempt to do so, or retain a child (who has been in the United States) outside of the United States with no intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights.”
Under this law, the term “child” is defined as a person who is under the age of 16.
People convicted of international parental kidnapping will be fined and/or imprisoned for not more than 3 years.
An indictment for international parental kidnapping charges is determined by the prevalence of a number of factors. Attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm has an adept knowledge of the elements in a case that must be proven to prosecute a defendant of international parental kidnapping, and therefore understands the potential defenses to assert to disprove these elements. A defense can be convincing that it leads to a defendant's sentence being reduced or dismissed. A solid defense can even lead to the dismissal of your case altogether. The following defenses could possibly be asserted in your case if applicable:
- The defendant acted within the provisions of a valid court order granted the defendant legal custody or visitation rights and that the order was obtained pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and was in effect at the time of the offense;
- The defendant was fleeing an incident or pattern of domestic violence; or
- The defendant had physical custody of the child because of a court order granting legal custody or visitation rights and failed to return the child as a result of circumstances beyond the defendant's control, and the defendant made reasonable attempts to notify the other parent or lawful custodian of the child of such circumstances within 24 hours
Pennsylvania Family Law & Criminal Defense Attorney
If you've been arrested for international kidnapping, you shouldn't rely on your divorce attorney for help. Get the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer to build a case for you and represent you. Remember to not discuss the circumstances of an incident without an attorney present. If the police attempt to question you, you should decline to answer and request an attorney.
If it's only a civil matter, you need the help of a seasoned family law attorney. Joseph D. Lento is well-versed in both areas of law. He will provide you with options in these predicaments. He keeps flexible office hours and is willing to work around your schedule. To set up a consultation or for more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm either online or by phone at 888-535-3686.