The word "kidnapping" often invokes immediate fear. This is due to its association with criminals abducting victims with the intent to cause serious harm. Yet kidnapping may apply to several different situations ranging from the very serious to the seemingly benign. Those accused of it may face extensive criminal penalties, while others may simply see it impact their parental or custodial rights.
Most equate kidnapping to criminal activity. One is said to have kidnapped another when he or she abducts a person against that person's will, or unlawfully detains a person in a confined space. While adults can be kidnapped, the crime is usually associated with children, with law enforcement officials enacting measures such as Amber Alerts to enlist the assistance of the public when kids have been taken.
Amber Alerts are not always reserved for cases when kids are abducted by strangers. Kidnapping is also often associated with custodial disputes. Law enforcement officials may be prompted to issue an Amber Alert when a non-custodial parent takes his or her child away in violation of a custody order. Such alerts are considered equally as serious even though there may be no threat of harm to the children.
Kidnapping cases can involve local, federal, or even international jurisdictions. In scenarios involving custody disputes, parents who take their children across state lines or country borders introduce an added level of complexity to their cases. In these situations, child custody attorneys will often be needed to present arguments in both jurisdictions to have the children returned and the cases heard in the courts they originated from.
International abductions by parents are a more common occurrence than many may think. Several countries have banded together to establish international civil laws to deal with such cases. These regulations are not necessarily meant to offer a means by which parents who flee to other countries with their children can be prosecuted, but rather to ensure that proper jurisdiction in custody disputes is recognized and respected.