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When Can a Person Be Charged With Kidnapping or Unlawful Restraint of a Child?

 Posted on July 08, 2021 in Criminal Defense

tarrant county criminal defense lawyerThere are many different types of situations where a person may be charged with crimes against children, and these cases can not only lead to serious criminal penalties, but they can also affect a parent’s custody of their children. Kidnapping is one offense that is not always fully understood by the general public. Rather than “stranger danger” situations in which a person snatches a child off the street, many of these cases involve a child’s parent or another relative holding or transporting a child without authorization. People who are involved in these types of situations will want to understand how the laws define kidnapping and unlawful restraint of children and the potential penalties they could face for these offenses.

Kidnapping and Unlawful Restraint in Texas

The offense of kidnapping involves the intentional abduction of a person in which they are kept or hidden in a place where they are unlikely to be found by others or when the offender uses or threatens to use deadly force. This offense is a third-degree felony. A person who is convicted kidnapping may be imprisoned for 2 to 10 years and fined up to $10,000. However, a person who is accused of kidnapping a child may defend against these charges by demonstrating that they did not intend to use deadly force, that they are a relative of the child who was allegedly abducted (such as a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling, including those who are related to a child through marriage or adoption), and that their actions were meant to allow them to maintain “lawful control” of the child.

In cases where a person’s actions did not meet the requirements for a kidnapping charge, they may be charged with unlawful restraint if they restricted another person’s movements without that person’s consent. These charges may apply in situations involving taking a child by force or through intimidation or deception, restraining a child under 14 years old without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian, or taking a child between the ages of 14 and 17 outside the state of Texas without a parent or guardian’s consent. 

Unlawful restraint is a state jail felony if a person allegedly restrained a child under 17 years old, and a person who is convicted may be imprisoned for 180 days to two years and fined up to $10,000. A charge may be increased to a third-degree felony if a person allegedly exposed the child to the risk of serious bodily injury. As with kidnapping charges, a person can defend themselves against charges of unlawful restraint involving a child under 14 years old by showing that they are a relative of the child and that their sole intent was to maintain lawful control of the child. 

Contact Our Dallas Kidnapping Defense Attorney

In some situations, a child’s parent or another relative may be charged with kidnapping or unlawful restraint due to disputes with a child’s parent or disagreements about custody of children. To avoid being convicted of these charges, which could result in penalties that affect a parent or relative’s relationship with a child or other family members, a person will want to work with an experienced attorney at The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. Contact our Tarrant County crimes against children defense lawyer at 214-544-0061 to set up a free consultation.





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