Depriving Another Adult of Right of Custody to Child
Most people understand that when speaking of child abductions, they refer to instances in which a perpetrator, without the legal right of custody, takes away a child from the person(s) with custody. However, what happens in cases where multiple people have right of custody to a child and one of those individuals deprives the other(s) of said right? California Penal Code 278 PC has determined deprivation of custody to be a crime, even if the one depriving the other party has right of custody.
This crime applies to the following situation (with varying facts and contexts): the perpetrator took away or withheld a child under 18 years of age from those who have right of custody or right to visitation of said child. The withholding of the child need not be forceful, as enticing or luring them away from the other guardian(s) is also included in this crime, as well as if the child actively chooses to join the perpetrator. Penal Code 278 PC also applies if the perpetrator withholds the child from a government agency (if the agency has the right to custody). As mentioned above, a violation also occurs if the child is withheld from a person who may not have custody but does have the right to visitation.
Misdemeanor or Felony Conviction?
In order for the perpetrator to be found guilty, they must have withheld the child and deprived another adult of their right(s) with malicious intent. Therefore, the prosecution must prove that the perpetrator knew the act was wrong and did it anyway or did it to injure the other adult. If found guilty, the perpetrator faces either a misdemeanor or felony conviction. A felony would require probation, up to three years in jail and possible fines. On the other hand, while a misdemeanor can also require fines and probation, the jail time decreases to a year.