A mother charged with two counts of international parental kidnapping has been sentenced to 13 months in federal prison for fleeing the country with her sons.
The 42-year-old mother is from California. Her two sons, ages 9 and 15 at the time of the abduction, live in Washington with their father. In August 2015, during what was supposed to be a supervised visit, the woman took her two sons across the border to Mexico with the intent of obstructing their father's parental rights. Authorities tracked her down and reunited the children with their father in February. The woman plead guilty in September. She previously attempted to abduct her sons in 2013 and take them to Taiwan.
In Washington, the relative of a child or of person deemed incompetent is guilty of custodial interference in the first degree if the perpetrator denies access to a parent or guardian who has a lawful right to physical custody. It is also interference if the suspect:
- Intends to hold the victim permanently or for a protracted period; or
- Exposes the victim to a substantial risk of illness or physical injury; or
- Causes the victim to be removed from the state of usual residence; or
- Retains, detains or conceals the victim in another state after expiration of the authorized visitation period with intent to intimidate or harass the legal guardian or prevent them from regaining custody.
It is also custodial interference in the first degree if one parent denies access to the other parent when they have the lawful right to spend time time with the child pursuant to a court order; or exposes the child to a substantial risk of illness or physical injury; or causes the child to be removed from the state of usual residence.
Custodial interference in the first degree is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, or a $10,000 fine, or both.
Under the Revised Code of Washington, in addition to spending a year in federal prison, the mother will be expected to pay for the cost incurred to locate and return the children to their father.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have several investigative options when they become involved in a case of a child abducted by a parent and taken over state lines or outside the United States.
- Under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act, a criminal arrest warrant can be issued for a parent who takes a child younger than 16 outside of the U.S. without the other custodial parent's permission.
- When criminal charges are filed by a state that requests help from the F.B.I., a criminal arrest warrant can be issued for an abducting parent who flees across state lines or internationally.
- In nations that have signed the the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, there is a civil process that facilitates the return of abducted children younger than 16 to their home countries.
Two of the options available to the F.B.I., are criminal processes which enable the arrest of the abducting parent, but do not specifically order the return of the child, although the child is usually returned when the parent is apprehended. The civil process, under the Hague Convention, facilitates the return of the child, but does not seeks the arrest of the abductor.
Regardless of the circumstances of your arrest, if you are facing criminal charges in Washington state, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.