When a Custody Dispute Becomes a Criminal Case
The emotions involved in a child custody dispute may cause the actions of a parent to cross the line from a vigorous pursuit to a criminal act. While some actions may cause you trouble with the family law judge involved in your case, or even get you held in contempt, other actions can result in your arrested and serving time in prison.
Interference with Visitation
Unlawful Visitation or Parenting Time Interference is a petty crime—it is punishable by a fine and is similar to a traffic infraction. However, if there are repeated problems, it becomes a Class A misdemeanor and you could face a maximum of one year in jail.
Interference occurs when you deprive someone else of his or her rights to visitation or custody in violation of a court order or judgment. This can happen when a child is detained or hidden from the individual who has rights to custody or visitation.
Parental kidnapping under Illinois law involves intentionally hiding a child or removing a child from the custody of a court that has issued a custody order. The crime of parental kidnapping is a Class 4 felony in Illinois and is subject to a penalty of one to three years in prison if convicted.
In cases where the parents are not married and the there has been no custody order, a father who removes his child without the consent of the child’s mother also commits parental kidnapping. If the child is transported into another state or another country, the crime is a federal offense and is usually investigated by the FBI.
In Illinois, a parent can withhold a child if he or she has a reasonable fear that the child will suffer imminent harm if the child is returned to the other parent. However, determining what a reasonable fear is and what imminent harm means can be difficult. A generalized fear that the child is not happy with the other parent is not considered to be a reasonable fear by the courts. However, if the other parent is intoxicated at the time of pickup or the child exhibits signs of abuse or neglect, the parent may have a defense against charges of interference or kidnapping. The parent should also notify the police immediately.
Never speak to anyone about your case until you have spoken to an experienced Wheaton criminal defense lawyer. Call Davi Law Group, LLC today to schedule a consultation at 630-580-6373. Even if you have not been arrested, and have only been accused of a crime, you need to meet with a lawyer right away.