The taking of a child is a serious offense. Kidnapping a child is a felony that may be prosecuted under state or federal law. Different forms of child abduction under Louisiana law are based on who allegedly took the child, the age of the child, and why the child may have been taken.
In Louisiana, prosecutors accusing a person of aggravated kidnapping of a child are accusing someone other than a parent, grandparent or legal guardian of taking a child younger than 13 without permission, and with the intent to keep the child from his parent or legal guardian. The law considers aggravated kidnapping of a child to be a serious crime — and the potential penalties are harsh. A person convicted of aggravated kidnapping of a child may face a prison sentence of life without parole. Lesser punishments of as little as five years, but up to 40 years, may be available if the child is safely recovered and has not been physically or sexually assaulted.
In contrast, simple kidnapping of a child is the taking of a child younger than 14 without the consent of the child’s parent or legal custodian. Simple kidnapping also encompasses the taking of children that may occur in the context of a custody battle. A person charged with simple kidnapping may have been accused of taking a child without consent from a person to whom a court has awarded custody, with the intent to affect the court’s jurisdiction over custody decisions of the child. A simple kidnapping conviction may carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to five thousand dollars.
A lesser but related offense is the crime of interference with the custody of a child. Under Louisiana law, this crime entails the taking of a child by the non-custodial parent with intentions of keeping the child from the custodial parent. This offense may carry a jail sentence of six months, plus a $500 fine. A potential defense to this crime exists if the accused reasonably believed he acted to protect the child’s welfare.
Parents and others may make rash decisions that have long-term consequences when children are involved. Everyone deserves the right to a defense. If a person has been accused of kidnapping a child, it may be wise to seek experienced legal assistance to aid in a defense.