Often it is a parent who takes a child. Fewer than 1% of all child abductions are by strangers. This is devastating for the custodial parent and terrifying for the child. In the vast majority of kidnappings it is a parent who believes they have been deprived of time with a child or who believes that the child is in danger, that resorts to kidnapping. Once a child is taken, the child is often transported to another state. Complex laws can apply to these scenarios.
Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA)
The PKPA is a federal law that provides requirements for how states enforce interstate child custody determinations. A state may not take jurisdiction of a child custody proceeding that was commenced while another child custody proceeding involving the same children and parents is pending in another state. This prevents a parent from taking a child and filing a new action in a new state.
The Criminal Law in Michigan is clear on Parental Kidnapping
Section 750.350a of the Criminal Penal Code states:
(1) An adoptive or natural parent of a child shall not take that child, or retain that child for more than 24 hours, with the intent to detain or conceal the child from any other parent or legal guardian of the child who has custody or parenting time rights pursuant to a lawful court order at the time of the taking or retention, or from the person or persons who have adopted the child, or from any other person having lawful charge of the child at the time of the taking or retention.
(2) A parent who violates subsection (1) is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year and 1 day, or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.
(3) A parent who violates this section, upon conviction, in addition to any other punishment, may be ordered to make restitution to the other parent, legal guardian, the person or persons who have adopted the child, or any other person having lawful charge of the child for any financial expense incurred as a result of attempting to locate and having the child returned.
(4) When a parent who has not been convicted previously of a violation of section 349, 350, or this section, or under any statute of the United States or of any state related to kidnapping, pleads guilty to, or is found guilty of, a violation of this section, the court, without entering a judgment of guilt and with the consent of the accused parent, may defer further proceedings and place the accused parent on probation with lawful terms and conditions. The terms and conditions of probation may include participation in a drug treatment court under chapter 10A of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.1060 to 600.1082. Upon a violation of a term or condition of probation, the court may enter an adjudication of guilt and proceed as otherwise provided. Upon fulfillment of the terms and conditions of probation, the court shall discharge from probation and dismiss the proceedings against the parent. Discharge and dismissal under this subsection shall be without adjudication of guilt and is not a conviction for purposes of disqualifications or disabilities imposed by law upon conviction of a crime, including any additional penalties imposed for second or subsequent convictions. The department of state police shall retain a nonpublic record of an arrest and discharge and dismissal under this section. This record shall be furnished to either or both of the following:
(a) To a court or police agency upon request for the purpose of showing that a defendant in a criminal action has already availed himself or herself of this subsection.
(b) To a court, police agency, or prosecutor upon request for the purpose of determining whether the defendant in a criminal action is eligible for discharge and dismissal of proceedings by a drug treatment court under section 1076(4) of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.1076.
(5) It is a complete defense under this section if a parent proves that his or her actions were taken for the purpose of protecting the child from an immediate and actual threat of physical or mental harm, abuse, or neglect.