Can You Be Charged With Kidnapping Your Own Children?
After a particularly unpleasant divorce, let’s say you find yourself in constant conflict with your former spouse regarding anything and everything related to your parenting plan. Things continue to deteriorate, until one day you find yourself arrested for kidnapping! How can this possibly occur, when the case revolves around you and your own flesh-and-blood children?
Understanding the Law
First of all, it’s important to know that Florida law clearly addresses parental kidnapping (statute 787.03, 787.04) separately and distinctly from abductions of other kinds. To be clear, if you interfere with your ex’s custody rights and/or take a child out of the state without the custodial parent’s agreement, you could be slapped with kidnapping charges. The range of activities that could be included in these charges may surprise some people; it’s not just a matter of taking the kids on vacation without informing your former spouse. If a parent regularly defies the allotted visitation agreement, that could be considered custodial interference.
Consequences of Parental Interference and Parental Kidnapping
It is a third-degree felony to engage in custodial interference. That includes engaging in any behavior that intentionally impedes a custodial parent’s ability to exercise their custodial rights. The penalties could include fines and time behind bars, in addition to redefining the time-sharing agreement. If the child(ren) is physically taken from a custodial parent, kidnapping charges could result in five years in prison, 5 years of probation, and $5,000 in fines—all penalties associated with the more serious charges.
Defending Against Charges
Is there ever a defensible reason for parental kidnapping? A court may find there were adequate legal grounds for such actions under very limited circumstances:
- Your actions were the result of an attempt to protect the children from jeopardy;
- Your child left of his own accord;
- You were afraid of a domestic violence situation and wanted to protect your child from exposure to that.
Other Possible Defenses
There are other ways to address these kinds of charges that can be very effective, depending on the circumstances of your case:
- You can state flat out that your former spouse is lying and the incident in question never occurred;
- You could claim that while an incident did occur, it was far short of parental alienation or kidnapping, and your ex is simply acting vindictively;
- While it’s true that you took the kids out of state, you did so only after getting permission from your former spouse (you neglected to get it in writing, never imagining this would happen).
An Aggressive Defense
You just want to be a parent; there is no reason to put you behind bars for the crime of loving your kids. For an aggressive defense of these charges, contact the knowledgeable Kissimmee criminal defense attorneys at Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A. today.