You’re driving home on a rainy day. Your route takes you past the local school, and you see your neighbor’s 12-year-old son walking home in the rain. You pull over and tell the child to hop in for a lift home. Knowing his parents will not be home for another hour or so, you decide that it would be best if you have him stay with you so that he is not left home alone.
Although you were only trying to be a good neighbor, this act could lead to you facing serious criminal charges.
Could You Be Charged with a Crime for Giving a Child a Ride Home?
While you were only trying to prevent your neighbor’s son from having to walk home in the rain, you could find yourself facing serious criminal charges if you did not have permission from the child’s parents to take him home. Let’s briefly look at some of the possible charges you could face:
Kidnapping (Penal Code Section 207)
If it is found that you used force, fear, or fraud to move a child under the age of 14 a substantial distance without consent, you could be convicted of aggravated kidnapping.
This crime is punishable by a prison sentence between five years and life, depending on the facts of the case.
Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor (Penal Code Section 272(b))
It is also a crime to persuade and lure, or transport a minor under the age of 14 without the express consent of his parents or legal guardian. The penalty for this crime depends on whether it is charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor.
If you are charged with an infraction, you could be fined $250. A misdemeanor carries up to six months in county jail and a fine of $1,000.
Child Abduction (Penal Code Section 278)
Child abduction is similar to kidnapping, but the elements of this crime are slightly different. To be convicted of child abduction, the prosecution must show that you maliciously took, enticed away, kept, withheld or concealed a child without the right of custody over the child, and you specifically intended to detain or conceal the child from his parents or legal guardian.
Child abduction can be charged a misdemeanor or a felony. The maximum penalty for felony child abduction is four years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.
Contacting a Minor to Commit a Felony (Penal Code Section 288.3)
Simply contacting your neighbor’s child could lead to a criminal charge. Under PC 288.3, it is a felony to contact or communicate with a person you know to be a minor with the intent to commit another felony involving that minor.
If you are convicted of this crime, you could be fined $10,000 and forced to serve a jail or prison sentence for the underlying felony you were accused of intending to commit. So for instance, if you contacted a minor with the intent of kidnapping that minor, you could face the same penalties you would face if you were convicted of kidnapping.
Arranging a Meeting with a Minor for Lewd Purposes (Penal Code Section 288.4)
Similar to contacting a minor, this law makes it a crime to arrange a meeting with a minor if you were motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children with the intent to engage in sexual conduct with the minor at the meeting. This crime includes any attempt to arrange a meeting, including when the attempt was not successful.
This crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, with a maximum penalty of four years in state prison and a fine of $10,000.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
In today’s climate, you are always taking a risk to be alone with a minor that is not related to you. In fact, it isn’t completely safe to be with the minor that may be related to you. Our law firm has represented scores of people who offered a ride to a minor, took care of a child or found themselves alone with a minor for one of many reasons. In each case, they found themselves accused by the minor or a third party of doing something unlawful to the minor.
No matter what the situation is, when the allegation is made the police will likely believe it. This is because in most police officers minds, minors do not lie. So, in general, you are taking a risk by putting yourself in a situation where you are alone with a minor. Always get the permission of the child’s parent before being alone with a child. Even with the parents’ consent it is very good advice to avoid being alone with a minor that is not related to you if you want to avoid the possibility of being falsely accused of a serious crime. The allegation alone could ruin your life.
If you are accused of a crime, you should contact a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have been successfully defending clients accused of serious crimes for more 35 years. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.