Depriving a parent of visitation rights or child custody rights is a crime listed under California Penal Code 278.5. This crime is described as willfully depriving another adult of his/her right to visitation or custody of a child. If multiple children are involved, an individual can be charged with multiple violations of Penal Code 278.5.
Deprivation of parental rights to visitation is not the same as that of child abduction, because deprivation of custody or visitation privileges may be committed by a person who has those rights. To distinguish the two crimes, deprivation of child custody rights is sometimes called ‘child detention’.
A misdemeanor or a felony charge can be brought against an individual depriving another of custody with consideration of circumstances.
If charged as a misdemeanor, child custody deprivation can be punished by a year in county jail and/or a fine of $1000.
A felony charge of child custody deprivation can result in a $10,000 fine and three years of incarceration in the country jail.
Situations like the following will be considered when a parent receives felony sentencing for the crime of child custody deprivation.
Mitigating factors pointing to lighter penalties may involve a parent giving instructions as to a child’s whereabouts or returning a child unharmed prior to arrest.
Child custody deprivation is often the result of divorce, rancorous custody disputes or fear for a child’s safety in custodial supervision. Such situations are very volatile, and often result in unwise behaviors with intent to better a difficult situation.
A custodial grandparent may decide that a parent is not capable of raising a child after completing drug rehabilitation and refuse to return the child.
A man may become angry at his ex-wife’s living conditions and refuse to return children after visitation.
A woman suffering domestic abuse may depart with her children, leaving no forwarding address.
Legal defenses for deprivation of custody charges involve determining who actually has rights to custody of a child. Sometimes a parent will charge the other parent with deprivation of custody when, in actuality, no settlement has been made for clear custody rights.
False accusations of deprivation of custody rights are very common. A difficult relationship with a previous spouse can lead to revenge tactics accusing a parent of child detention when there is no basis for the charges.
A criminal defense lawyer in Las Angeles is schooled in family law and can determine whether there is any foundation to the charges being leveled.
To discuss your case pertaining to the crime of Penal Code 278.5, please call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to make an appointment. Our lawyers are well-versed in family law.