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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77753 Find in a Library
Title: Problems in the Prosecution of Parental Child Stealing Offenses (From Parental Kidnaping Prevention Act of 1979, S 105 - Addendum, P 76-87, 1980 - See NCJ-77752)
Author(s): M W Agopian
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 12
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the extent of parental child stealing, describes guidelines used by the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office for determining prosecution in these cases, and reports findings from a study in progress on parental child stealing.
Abstract: The research examined 91 cases of child theft screened for prosecution by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office between July 1, 1977, and June 30, 1978; child stealing charges were filed in 55 percent of the cases. In response to the complex relations characteristic of many parental child thefts, the prosecutors attempt to use noncriminal or minimal action to elicit compliance with a custody order. They provide the offending party with information on the law, corrective actions and the possibility of criminal charges. Mediation in the form of an office conference when a custody order is vague or when violations are minor or infrequent is appropriate. A misdemeanor prosecution -usually indicative of less serious but more continuing domestic disharmony culminating in a child theft -- can be issued by either the district or city attorney. The final course of action is the filing of felony charges in (1) aggravated cases that might include a history of prior thefts, elaborate schemes, or the disappearance of the parent or child and (2) extradition proceedings. However, child stealing charges can be rejected due to incomplete evidence, in the 'interest of justice,' and as the result of a misdemeanor referral or an uncooperative and/or unwilling victim. Satisfied with physical possession of the child, the offending parent's failure to seek legal custody reduces contact with the criminal justice system. Increased mobility and the ease of adopting new identities and integrating into new communities further enhance the offender's escape from criminal action. A total of 17 references are provided.
Index Term(s): California; Child Abduction; Offender profiles; Prosecutorial discretion; Prosecutorial screening
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