In New York State, a person, even if they are a family member, is legally not allowed to take a child from their lawful custodian. The state has laws in place to make sure that only the legal custodian, whether it is a parent by birth or legal adoption or even the person who is charged with the care of an incompetent person, is the person who can claim custody of the child. This offense begins as a class A misdemeanor, but can become very serious very quickly if not handled properly. Call now for a free consultation with one of our experienced New York criminal attorneys.
If you believe that a child is not being cared for properly or being harmed, it is not okay to remove them from their custodial parent or guardian of your own volition if they are not in immediate danger. The proper authorities must be alerted (i.e. Child Protection Services, Department of Children and Family Services, etc.) to make sure that you aren’t charged with criminal charges for trying to help the child. Even if you are a family member, you are not allowed to take the child with the intent of keeping them when you have no legal right to do so. In these types of situations where someone takes the child from their legal custodian or guardian, the custodian or guardian can have the state bring charges for custodial interference.
The lower degree of this offense applies with a relative of a child less than sixteen takes said child intending to keep them either permanently or for a significant amount of time having no legal right to take them from their legal custodian. Additionally, if a person takes or convinces an incompetent person or other person entrusted to the custody of another to leave such lawful custody, this degree of the offence also applies.
The higher level of the offense is a class E felony, meaning significant time behind bars can be sentenced by the court if convicted. This higher degree of the offense applies when a person removes the child as stated above, but intends to take the child to another state permanently or removes them from New York. Additionally, if they expose the child to a situation where there is risk their safety will be endangered or their health materially impaired, this degree of the offense will also apply.
One way that this section of the law does not apply is if the child has been abandoned, or that the taking of the child was necessary during an emergency situation where the child needs to be protected from mistreatment or abuse, either occurring or threatening to occur. In these situations, it is incredibly important that you still communicate with the proper authorities to alert them of the situation, or at the very least contact an attorney.
If you have been charged with custodial interference, our experienced team of New York criminal attorneys are here to take your call. Our office can help you navigate these charges in hopes of a positive outcome.