Interfering with Custody
When an adult takes a child that should be in the custody of someone else, they run a serious risk. If you are not the child’s parent, the accusations alone can devastate your life, even if you are not convicted. Your name may be in the newspaper and your face on the TV news.
Even if you are the parent, and you had good reasons for having your child with you when you did not have custody or visitation, you can face jail time.
Interfering with custody of children can result in a felony offense. It is essential to retain a skilled defense attorney if you are charged.
What You Need To Know About Interfering with Custody of Children
A person commits interfering with custody of children when they knowingly or recklessly take or entice a child under 18 from the custody of their parent or guardian when they don’t have the privilege to do so.
- Among divorced parents with children, interfering with custody may occur because a parent misunderstands a court order, there is a communication problem or a parent deliberately breaks the rules to keep their child longer.
- Sometimes a parent breaks custody rules intentionally because they believe doing so will keep their child safe.
If you are not the parent and you knew your action would cause serious alarm for the child’s safety but you had reckless disregard for that alarm, you face a felony of the second degree if you are convicted.
If you are a parent and you took the child when you did not have custody or visitation, you are looking at a felony of the third degree.
Key defenses for this charge are:
- You believed your action would keep the child safe from danger.
- The child was 14 or older and they wanted to come with you, without enticement and at their own instigation. Additionally, you had no intention to commit a criminal offense against the child.
- You are the child’s parent or guardian and not acting contrary to a court order.
What To Do If You Are Charged
If you are charged with interfering with custody of children, do not anger the arresting officer unnecessarily. At this stage, do not discuss what happened with the police or claim your innocence.
- As with most criminal charges, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without your attorney by your side. What you say can be taken out of context and used against you.
- If the police question you, tell them you want a lawyer and politely refuse to answer their questions.
What Your Lawyer Can Do
Your attorney will carefully review every aspect of your case to determine if there is evidence for all you have been accused of.
- If you took the child because you thought doing so would save them from danger, or because the child wanted to come with you, your lawyer will try to find proof to back up your claims.
- If you are child’s parent or guardian and you had the right to have the child, your lawyer will show that you did have that right.
- Your lawyer will make every effort to discredit any evidence not in your favor.
Your lawyer will be looking at every avenue that can help you, so it’s important that you give them all of the information that can support your case.
How A Philadelphia Child Custody Lawyer Will Help
When you are up against an interfering with the custody of children charge, even before your first hearing you will be facing a determined prosecutor and Pennsylvania’s stiff laws. You need an attorney who will stand by you every step of the way, work hard to discredit any evidence – and work with you to determine your best course of action.
Pennsylvania Interfering With Custody Of Children Law
Interfering with custody of children is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code under Title 18, Chapter 29. Read the code here.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.