Even with the best intentions, actions that interfere with the custody of a child can result in indictable charges. At times, strained relationships between parents carry over into the care for the child. When this occurs, the hazy line of what constitutes illegal conduct tends to be crossed, both intentionally or unintentionally. If an individual detains, conceals or in some way interferes with a parent’s custody of their child, then they may be arrested/charged with the crime of Interference with Custody.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4(a), there are four circumstances that may give rise to prosecution for interference with the custody of a child. The first scenario is set forth under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4(a)(1), and occurs when the person takes or detains a minor child with the purpose of concealing the minor child and thereby depriving the other parent of custody or parenting time. The second variety of violation is set forth at N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4(a)(2) and involves situations where proceeding are initiated prior to the interference with custody. The third scenario, which is contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4(a)(3), is similar to the second, accept that the purpose it serves differs slightly. This section deals with conduct that would seek to thwart a protective services proceeding affecting custody. The fourth and final pedigree of this offense occurs where there is a temporary or final order that is knowingly disregarded.
Even if the elements of interference with custody are satisfied, an individual may, nevertheless, avoid conviction if one of four (4) affirmative defenses apply. An affirmative defense is one that concedes to the allegations, but raises new facts that, if true, clear the defendant altogether from liability. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4(a), there are four affirmative defenses and they are: (1) interference was necessary to protect the child from imminent danger; (2) to protect the parent from imminent physical danger; (3) interference was with consent; or (4) the conduct was of the child’s own volition and he/she was over 14.
Unless you successfully defend the charge or raise one of the four affirmative defenses, the penalties you face are severe. Interference with custody is a crime of the third degree. However, it will elevate to a crime of the second degree if the child is detained or concealed outside of the United States for more than twenty-four (24) hours. Conviction for third degree interference with custody results in up to five (5) years in prison and a fine up to $15,000. Second degree interference with custody carries five (5) to ten (10) years in prison and a fine that can reach $150,000.
If you have been charged with interference with custody, we encourage you to contact our Essex County Criminal Defense Firm in Newark NJ for a free initial consultation. At attorney is available 24/7 at 973-710-1520.