Abducting a child is a serious crime that may be criminal kidnapping, which is considered either a first degree or second degree felony in Ohio depending upon the circumstances, or custodial interference. A person is guilty of kidnapping if he or she removes another person from a place (or restrains that person’s liberty) by force, threat, or deception, or, in the case of children under the age of thirteen, by any means for the purpose of holding for ransom or hostage, facilitate the commission of another felony, to terrorize or inflict physical harm on the victim, to engage in sexual activity with the victim against the victim’s will, or to obstruct a function of government.
The kidnapping is considered a first degree felony in Ohio if it creates a substantial risk of serious physical harm to the victim and carries a mandatory term of between 15 years to life imprisonment. If the offender releases the victim unharmed in a safe place, the kidnapping is a second degree felony and carries a mandatory term of between 10 years to life imprisonment.
In Ohio, one enticing, keeping, or harboring a child under eighteen from a parent, guardian, or custodian is guilty of custodial interference. This crime is considered a first degree misdemeanor. If the child is actually removed from the state, the offense becomes a fifth degree felony, and if the child suffers physical harm because of the interference, it is a fourth degree felony.
Additionally, the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act comes into play in these situations. Under the Act, an abduction is any act that keeps a child from his or her lawful custodian or a person with a legal right to visitation. It is not necessary that the child be hidden or concealed.
Under this law, an abducting parent is prevented from obtaining legal custody in another state where the court might be unaware that the child has been abducted.
Enforcement of Custodial Interference Laws
If a parent believes that parental abduction or custodial interference has taken place, he or she must immediately seek the assistance of a family law attorney who is knowledgeable regarding custody issues. The parent must seek a court order in place. If there is an existing custody order at the time of the abduction, the parent may ask the court to modify that order to grant temporary sole custody of the child. Along with this, the parent should request for an order from the court directed to law enforcement wherever the child is or is believed to be to recover the child.
Columbus Family Law Attorney
If you are the victim of a parental kidnapping, you need the immediate assistance of a family law attorney. Contact the Law Offices of William L. Geary at (614) 289-1227 to speak to an attorney who can help you make decisions that are best for your situation.