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Jul 29, 2020

Criminal Restraint by a Parent

You don’t need someone to tell you that kidnapping is a serious offense with serious consequences if you are convicted of the crime. In Maine, a criminal charge that is, in some ways, similar to the crime of kidnapping is something called “criminal restraint.” Due to the volatile nature of many co-parenting situations (stemming from resentment after a divorce or split), one situation that frequently comes up with criminal restraint in Maine is with child custody. This blog will give an overview of this crime and possible penalties if you are convicted. 

What is Criminal Restraint by a Parent?

The crime of parental kidnapping in Maine is officially referred to as “criminal restraint by a parent.” If one parent takes a child away from the custody of the other parent without a legal right to do so, then he or she has committed criminal restraint by a parent. This crime will generally be classified as either a Class C or D offense under the Maine Criminal Code. 

Class C Criminal Restraint by Parent

A parent commits Class C criminal restraint by a parent if they take their child, who is under 8 years of age away from the custody of the other parent, guardian, or other lawful custodian AND intends to take the child out of Maine or somewhere where he or she is not likely to be found. This classification of criminal restraint by parent also applies if the child lives out-of-state but is less than 8 years old and has their custody established by a court in Maine. 

A Class C crime in Maine is the lowest level felony charge. It is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of no more than $5,000.

Class D Criminal Restraint by Parent

You’ll notice that minors who are at least 16 years of age are given certain decision-making powers in Maine, which means that criminal restraint by parent can generally occur only with children 15 years of age or younger. However, there is one notable exception with minors who are 16 or 17 years of age: parents taking their child away if they are under the purview of the Department of Corrections or Health and Human Services. Again, the parents must know that they have no legal right to take their child away from these state departments and hide them where they are unlikely to be found.  Under these scenarios, the parent can be charged with a Class D crime.

What if your child asked you to take him away from the other parent?

That doesn’t matter. Maine law does not allow the consent of a minor to override lawful custody orders. 

Conclusion

We understand that being prevented from seeing your child is extremely frustrating and heartbreaking. However, there are legal avenues for altering custody orders so you have access to your offspring. If your emotions got the better of you and you need help fighting your criminal charges, please get in touch with The Maine Criminal Defense Group today. Call us at 207-571-8146 to discuss your options. 

 

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