Sometimes parents embroiled in bitter custody or divorce battles use their children to get back at the other parent. This can range from lying to get the court to grant them custody to accusing the other parent of kidnapping the child in order to ensure that do not get to spend time with the child. Being accused of kidnapping is a serious offense, and even if the child is your own, you may face bitter consequences as a result of these allegations. Our Tampa defense lawyer explains parental kidnapping and how you may be affected by this criminal charge.
What Is Parental Kidnapping?
On October 6, 2011, the Florida Supreme Court resolved a conflict between the second and third district courts of appeal on the issue of whether a parent could be convicted of kidnapping his or her own child.
According to Florida statute section 787.01, any person can be accused of parental kidnapping when (a) proscribes one from confining, abducting, or imprisoning another person against their will with the intent to hold them for ransom, commit any felony, or inflict harm upon them. Under subsection (b), confinement of a child under the age of 13 is, as a matter of law, against his or her will if it is done without the consent of the child's parent or legal guardian. The Supreme Court determined that a parent can be convicted of kidnapping his or her child despite the language of subsection (b), stating that if the legislature intended to exempt a parent from the provisions of 787.01, it would have expressly said so.
Therefore, parental kidnapping can be determined by these factors:
- The legal status of the accused parent;
- Declaration of court orders regarding custody; and
- Intention of the alleged kidnapping parent.
Unless it has been legally declared otherwise, each parent has an equal stake in their access and rights to the child. Just because one parent did not like the actions of the other does not mean that what they did was legally prohibited, or even considered kidnapping. Therefore, the most important defense against these allegations is that of lawful custody, or what is correct under the law.
If you or someone you know has been charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any other criminal offense, or think you might be, contact a Tampa criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Timothy Hessinger.