Missouri Parental Kidnapping Laws: That You Need to Know

Although some children may be kidnapped by total strangers for ransom, many are the times when kids are kidnapped by people who are close to you, and even worse, it can be the other parent. Parental kidnapping in Missouri is a serious offense. It’s not as simple as taking a child from the street. So, it is important to know what parental kidnapping is all about and how you can handle it. The truth is, dealing with the other parent who may have taken your child can be a stressful ordeal. Here, we will expound more and, in simple words, all about Missouri parental Kidnapping laws and enlighten you on the next steps to take if you have a parental kidnapping case.

Parental Kidnapping Laws in Missouri

Based on Missouri kidnapping laws, Child kidnapping is when a non-relative takes up a child or confines that child. Parental kidnapping, however, is when a parent or anyone with the right of custody takes, confines, removes, detains, or entices any child intending to deprive the parent or individual who also has a right of custody over the child.

For the Missouri parental kidnapping laws, two offenses are applicable. One is parental kidnapping, while the other is custodial interference. The latter is a much lesser offense, but one can be charged with a felony if they leave Missouri with the child.

If you are charging someone with parental kidnapping offenses, you should consider getting an expert to help. The expert will take you through all the knowledge you need so that you know what to expect. You will have less stress if you are doing this with the help of an expert.

Why is it kidnapping if the child is yours?

First of all, a child, according to Missouri law, is anyone below 18 years. As defined, you can be charged with kidnapping your child even when you have a right of custody over them. It also happens when you do not have a right of custody or when you exceed your custody rights.

For example, if you take up a child and fail to return them to their legal guardian after a visit, you might be charged with breaking Missouri parental kidnapping laws. It doesn’t matter whether you have custody rights or not.

What is Custodial Interference?

This is another offense included in parental kidnapping. Missouri law can charge one with custodial interference if a person takes anyone from the legal custody of a person entrusted by the court to the custody of another institution or another person and does this knowing they do not have any legal right to do so.

Custodial interference, although taken as a less severe offense, also has some penalties. It can also be taken as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the elements involved.  If charged as a misdemeanor, one may fail a jail term or up to one year and a fine amounting to $2,000. A felony, however, may occur if the charged person takes the child out of state. 

If you accuse someone of interfering with your custody rights, you can get a professional to help you out with the case. The professional charitable organizations that he’s left behind parents can help you come up with a strong case to regain custody of your child.

What Happens in a Parental Kidnapping Charge in Missouri?

Felonies such as parental kidnappings are a serious class of criminal offenses. They are punishable by imprisonment of not less than a year. If imprisoned under a felony charge, one serves their term in the state or federal penitentiary and not in the county jail. Following the rising number of kidnapped children every year, the government has become very keen on parental kidnapping cases. Parental kidnapping itself is a class E felony that can land one in prison for a maximum of 4 years.

If the person kidnaps the child for more than 60 days and less than 190 days, it is considered a class D felony. This offense can put someone in prison for up to seven years. If the kidnapping exceeds 120 days, it’s a Class B felony, and the person can face up to 15 years in prison and with a term that does not go below five years.

People who commit crimes on a regular basis, known as habitual offenders, may face harsher penalties under sentencing guidelines and so-called “three strikes” laws. To use a baseball analogy, a person who has been convicted of two previous major criminal crimes and is now convicted of a third faces much higher penalties from the federal government and many state governments. In essence, the premise is that if you have a history of committing crimes, particularly severe ones such as child kidnapping, you should face a lengthy term, typically life in prison. These laws are intended to protect the public from repeat offenders by permanently removing them from the streets.

What if the Other Parent Wants to Take the Child out of State?

If you are afraid that this would happen, you should seek professional legal advice immediately. The professional might help you to stop the other parent or find another solution.

Legal Defenses Against Parental Kidnapping?

Yes. One can apply some legal defenses to prove they are innocent. For instance:

  •  If they can prove that they were escaping domestic violence, the case of parental kidnapping can be less harsh on them.
  • If they failed to return the child after the stipulated time but had visitation rights to the child. 
  • If they can also prove that they could not return the child due to circumstances beyond their ability.
  • If they can prove that they tried to notify the legal custodian within 24 hours after taking the child.

If the accused person can prove that they had a court order granting custody or had visitation rights at the time of the alleged crime, the charges can be dismissed. The accused person can use the above defenses to prove that they are innocent. If you are accusing someone of parental kidnapping or custodial interference, you need a reputable lawyer to help you prove that the person is guilty of the offense.

What You Can do as the Parent Left Behind

Parental kidnapping and custodial interference are offenses that are common in the Missouri courts. Sadly, these cases may take up many resources for a parent looking to get back their child from the other parent. However, with good and professional support, parents with such a case should not be worried. A professional charitable organization can help you secure an attorney and support you throughout to ensure the affected child gets back home where he or she rightfully belongs.

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