May 4, 2015 By Paul Wallin

The Difference between Child Abduction and Kidnapping (PC 207)

Kidnapping and child abduction are two separate crimes, though both are felonies. Kidnapping is more serious than child abduction, but the two are often confused. Let’s take a look at the differences between kidnapping and child abduction.

Child Abduction (PC 278)

If you maliciously take or hide a child with the intent to keep that child from his or her legal guardian, you could be found guilty of child abduction under California Penal Code Section 278.

Child abduction felony charge under Penal Code 278.
Child abduction is charged as a felony in California.

Child abduction is a serious felony in California. In order to convict you of this crime, the prosecution must show the following:

  • You took a child, hid, or persuaded a child to stay away from his or her legal guardian
  • You intended to take or hide the child from his or her legal guardian
  • You did not have legal custody of that child

Surprisingly, most people charged with child abduction are members of the child’s family. If you have a good faith belief that in doing so, you were protecting that child from a threat of immediate bodily or emotional harm, then you may have a valid defense to child abduction charges.

Kidnapping (PC 207)

Kidnapping in California is generally defined as the taking and carrying away of another person by use of force or fearful threats. Under California Penal Code Section 207, you could also be found guilty of kidnapping if you:

  • Hire someone to kidnap the victim
  • Improperly persuade or seduce a child under the age of 14 to leave the state to perform a lewd act, or
  • Commit an act of human trafficking

To be convicted of kidnapping under PC 207, the prosecution must prove that:

  • You took, held or detained another person by using force or by instilling reasonable fear
  • Using force or fear, you moved the other person [or made the other person move] a substantial distance, and
  • That person did not agree to be moved

Kidnapping vs. Child Abduction

The biggest difference between child abduction and kidnapping is that the victim need not be a child in order to constitute kidnapping. However, the penalties are harsher if the victim is under 14 years of age.

If you kidnap a child that does not resist, the requirement that you used force can be met if you brought the child a “substantial distance” from his or her home. There is no such requirement for child abduction.

Consequences of Kidnapping and Child Abduction

Convicted of kidnapping in California penalty.
If you are convicted of kidnapping, you could spend up to eight years in prison.

If you are convicted of child abduction, you could face up to four years in prison as well as fines up to $10,000.

If you are convicted of kidnapping, you face between three and eight years in prison. However, if the victim was a child under the age of 14 years, then you could face up to 11 years in prison. You could face up to life in prison if convicted of kidnapping by ransom.

The judge may consider additional factors in determining your sentence as well, including:

  • Whether the victim was injured during commission of the crime
  • The distance the victim was brought against his or her will
  • The victim’s age, and
  • The duration of the abduction

Possible Defenses

Our skilled criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich know the legal defenses to these crimes. Some defenses we have successfully used to these charges include:

  • You did not intend to abduct or kidnap another
  • The alleged victim consented
  • Insufficient evidence
  • Mistake of fact or mistaken identity

Where Can I Find an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney?

An accusation of kidnapping or child abduction can ruin your life. If you are facing these charges, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending our clients facing criminal charges for over 40 years. We will meet with you and plan a strategy for your defense so that you can obtain the very best outcome possible in your case.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina 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.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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