According to a 2007 CNN article, over 200,000 children are kidnapped per annum. The majority of these kidnappings involve the non-custodial parent (i.e. the parent who is not the legal guardian) illegally seizing or keeping the child. The Illinois legislature characterizes kidnapping, as the knowing and secret confinement of another against his or her will, by imminent force or threat, or by deceit or enticement. Furthermore, if the child is under the age of thirteen and confined against his/her will without the consent of the legal guardian, there will be a presumption of kidnapping even though the kidnapper did not use force or deceit. Additionally, the manner in which a person kidnaps a child will be taken into account when the penalty is handed down. For instance, if the perpetrator of the crime is wearing a hood, robe, or mask in an attempt to conceal their identity the charges escalate from kidnapping to aggravated kidnapping. The penalty for aggravated kidnapping is an automatic fifteen-year increase on the original kidnapping charge.
As mentioned above, the majority of kidnappings are the result of the non-custodial parent illegally taking their child. The state of Illinois has recognized this statistical probability and enacted child abduction laws that expressly speak to this situation. According to the child abduction laws, “detains” means taking or retaining physical custody of a child, whether or not the child resists or objects.” This language is important because your child will not feel “detained” by his or her parent when they are with them. The child doesn’t know that what the parent is doing is illegal, so why would they object. If you are a parent and there is no court order of custody and you knowingly conceal the child from the other parent for fifteen-days without notifying the other parent of the specific whereabouts of the child, you will be prosecuted under the child abduction statute. The statute is very complex and discusses a multitude of variables that may or may not be applicable to a certain situation. As a result, some variables will exonerate a person charged with kidnapping or child abduction, while others will have their sentence increased if not successfully argued otherwise.
We understand that when it comes to your child, emotions run high. Sometimes, you make a mistake and do something impulsively with no regard for the consequences. Unfortunately, despite your best intentions as a parent, if you violate a court order or this Illinois statute, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It is imperative that upon being faced with such charges you contact a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney.