The simple answer to the above question is “yes.” Under certain circumstances in Texas, you can be arrested and charged with a felony for leaving the state with your own child.
The circumstances that apply include:
- You have filed for divorce from your spouse with whom you share a child; that divorce and its custody issues are pending
- You are in the middle of a pending child custody dispute with your child’s other parent
If you have been arrested for parental kidnapping, it is a serious legal matter that requires the expertise of an attorney who is experienced in criminal defense cases in your area. Serving College Station, Bryan, and Brazos County, The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. concentrates its practice on defending clients of misdemeanors and felonies. Led by Attorney Shane Phelps, who is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, our firm offers 24/7 legal help, free consultations, and 20 years of defense experience.
What is the Texas Law Pertaining to Parental Kidnapping?
Texas is a state that has a law regarding parental kidnapping or abduction on its books. This law is Texas Penal Code Section 25.03, called Interference with Child Custody.
Under this law, it is a felony when, as a parent, you take a child under the age of 18 out of the jurisdiction of the court as follows:
- When taking the child violates a court order concerning child custody
- When you do not have legal custody of the child
- When you knowingly take the child out of the jurisdictional area where a custody matter is ongoing in an effort to obstruct the court
- When you remove the child from the U.S. in an effort to divest the other parent of his or her right to the child (done without the other parent’s permission)
The above law does not apply if at the time you took the child you were entitled to “possess” or have “access to the child” or if you were fleeing a domestic violence situation.
According to this law, parental kidnapping or abduction is charged as a state jail felony. It is punishable by six months up to two years in a state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. More serious charges and penalties apply in cases where ransom was demanded for the child, where a deadly weapon was used in the commission of the crime, or where the child suffered abuse.
You will not be accused of this crime if you are not in the middle of a divorce or custody action. If you are still married and wish to take your child across state lines or out of the country, as the biological parent, you have that legal right.
If you need clarification on this law or if you have been accused of parental kidnapping or abduction, contact The Law Offices of Shane Phelps, P.C. You can speak confidentially with an attorney in a free consultation. Call (979) 773-7028 or contact us online.