Penal Code 278 PC - Child Abduction
It's a crime to obviously take another individual or individual's child with the intent of stealing the child. This is a very serious crime and is prosecuted a lot in California under child abduction laws.
This Penal Code is obviously designed to protect children from being abducted or being concealed from their parents, often in domestic violence-related situations. A lot of times where I see California Penal Code Section 280 coming into play is when a child is taken by someone either not the parent or by another parent who – when there is a child custody dispute, that's when a lot of these cases are filed related to taking children impermissibly.
Obviously, if a parent has the legal right to have a child and another parent is trying to just use law enforcement to get the person in trouble so they can gain an advantage in a custody battle in Los Angeles – that would be an improper use of Penal Code Section 280.
If you're being charged with a violation of Penal Code Section 280, child abduction under Penal Code Section 278, or anything in that realm, obviously, you want to get the best attorney you can find.
Courts are really designed to protect children, figure out what is in the best interest of children and prosecute those individuals who are doing anything related to breaking the bond of the parent-child relationship or anybody who is taking a child for some sort of illegal purpose – whether it be sexually-related or otherwise.
A lot of times, though, the case is filed as a kidnapping charge which is a more serious charge, and so you don't always see this California Penal Code Section 278 utilized when it comes to cases in Los Angeles County.
But, if someone is taking another person's child against their will and does not have any right to take the child – obviously, they can prosecute them in one of the Los Angeles courts for violation of Penal Code Section 278/Child Stealing.
Defenses To Child Stealing
A lot of times, I'm seeing these child stealing or abduction cases in Los Angeles where parents are having a custody battle related to children. One parent decides to take the child, and the other parent says that they didn't have the right to take the child based on whatever the divorce agreement or custody agreement allows, and so they call the police, and now you have a child-stealing case.
But, this could certainly be a defense if you believe that you have the authority as the parent and if there was no court order in place saying that you couldn't take your child – it's your child.
As long as you're not trying to take the child and keep him forever or away from the other parent, you would definitely potentially have a defense.
This is something you don't want to talk to the police about if they're investigating or charging you with Penal Code Section 278/Child Stealing.
You're going to want to get in front of a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who's done these types of cases before and knows how to defend them – knows what defenses work and knows what defenses don't work.
I've rarely seen in child-stealing cases or otherwise people talking to the police and giving their side of the story. I rarely see that actually working and a lot of times the police just kind of twist their words and turn it around and use what they say against them and end up filing a case against them anyway.
Reviewing Your Case With an Experienced Criminal lawyer
If the police mischaracterize something you say in a child stealing case, that ends up being the strongest evidence they have against you. So really, you don't want to talk to the police if you're being investigated for child stealing in violation of Penal Code Section 278.
Really what you want to do is talk to a criminal defense attorney and let them figure out exactly the best moves – look at the child custody order if that's what the issue centers around.
The more serious child stealing cases are the ones where the person does not know the child and is obviously enticing the child or taking a child off the street – these are the ones that are going to be typically prosecuted by sex crime attorneys because they're going to figure that the person has the intent to commit some sort of a sexual act against a child.
So, if you're charged with child stealing, and they're using Penal Code Section 278, you're going to want to sit down with an attorney, go over all the elements of that Penal Code Section and decide whether or not they actually have the evidence to prosecute you.
If they don't have the evidence, you're going to have to set the case for a jury trial, and you and your attorney are going to work together as a team to defend the case because if you get convicted of one of these cases related to child stealing or kidnapping – anything in that realm – you're looking at the state prison and you're looking at a lot of years in state prison, so it's crucial that you sit down with a criminal defense attorney who has done these types of cases before.
Next Step Preparing Your Defense
What I do is, I have you come in. We go over everything – we go over the facts and details of the case – and then we figure out our exact plan on how the case is going to be defended, what you can do to help, what I'm going to do.
This will give you an idea of what you're looking at and what you're facing relating to the case. Then we figure out how to put together the best defense to get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible because obviously, being charged with child stealing and then using Penal Code Section 278, you're going to have a high bail and a really difficult time getting out of custody.