Can I Face Criminal Charges for Violating a Child Custody Order?
Child custody disputes can be very contentious. When parents get divorced or break up, they may disagree strongly about where their children will live and when they will spend time in each parent’s home. Ongoing conflicts between parents may lead a person to take action to try to keep their children with them or prevent a child from spending time with the other parent. While parents may be aware that attempts to do so may affect child custody proceedings, they may not realize that these actions could potentially lead to criminal charges for kidnapping, child abduction, or interference with child custody.
What Is Interference With Child Custody?
Texas law specifies that taking a child in violation of a child custody order is a criminal offense. This charge may apply if a parent knowingly takes a child under the age of 18 in violation of the terms of a court order, including temporary orders put in place while a couple’s divorce or a suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR) is pending. In cases where custody has not yet been decided, a parent may face charges if they take a child out of the geographic area where they currently live in an attempt to prevent legal child custody proceedings from taking place. A parent may also be charged with a crime if they take the child out of the United States in order to deprive a parent who is entitled to custody of access to the child.
Interference with child custody may be charged in situations where a parent forces a child to leave the other parent or when they persuade or entice a child to come with them in violation of a child custody order. This offense is a state jail felony, and a person who is convicted may be sentenced to between six months and two years in prison.
Consequences of a Kidnapping Charge
In some situations, a parent’s violation of a child custody order may result in more serious criminal charges involving kidnapping or unlawful restraint. These charges may apply if a person used force or threatened to harm or kill someone when taking a child. A parent may also be charged with kidnapping if a court has terminated their parental rights. Kidnapping charges are generally more serious, and in many cases, a person will be charged with a third-degree felony, which could result in a prison sentence of two to 10 years. A person convicted of kidnapping or unlawful restraint of a victim younger than 17 years old may also be required to register as a sex offender.
Contact Our Plano Kidnapping Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of kidnapping your child, or if you are concerned that you may face criminal charges based on a child custody dispute, The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. can advise you of your options and provide you with a strong defense. We will work to help you resolve these issues and avoid being penalized for attempting to maintain a relationship with your children. Contact our Tarrant County child abduction defense lawyer at 214-303-9600 to arrange a free consultation today.