A search is underway for two missing boys who detectives believe were abducted by their mother at the end of August. Sage, 14 and Isaac Cook, 9, reportedly visited their mother Faye Ku in California. The boys live in Washington State with their father, who has had full custody since the couple divorced in 2009. Ku allegedly gave her ex-husband a “supervised visit” court order to force him to allow the boys to visit her. She left a written letter at her home blaming her ex-husband for trying to control her and her children. The boys were last seen at Los Angeles International Airport on August 28.
According to court documents, this is not the first time Ku has tried to take her boys. Back in June, she was arrested and charged with custodial interference for trying to board a flight with her boys to Taiwan.
What is Custodial Interference?
In California, custodial interference (aka ‘deprivation of legal rights’) occurs when there is an abduction that consists of maliciously depriving another adult of his or her right to custody of or visitation with a child. The elements of the crime are taking away, withholding, or concealing a child who is under 18 years old and depriving a lawful custodian of his or her rights to the child. See California Penal Code 278.5. Unlike the crime of child abduction, custodial interference can be committed by someone who actually has a right to visitation with, or even custody of, the child.
While custodial interference typically occurs in situations of exes that are not on good terms with each other, the crime itself does not have to be committed by another parent or relative. For example, an adult who helps a teen run away from home and claims that he or she is helping the child escape a bad home may still be charged and arrested for custodial interference.
Custodial interference is a wobbler crime, meaning it can be tried as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. If charged as a misdemeanor, custodial interference is punishable by one year imprisonment and up to a $1,000 fine. If charged as a felony, it is punishable by up to three years imprisonment and a fine of $10,000.
Possible defenses against a charge of custodial interference include:
- The other person did not actually have the right to custody of or visitation with the child;
- You were protecting the child and was not acting maliciously; or
- You were falsely accused.
San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer
The Law Offices of David M. Boertje handles all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases including charges of kidnapping or custodial interference. We are dedicated to protecting your constitutional rights and have successfully represented many defendants, including those with criminal charges for kidnapping or custodial interference. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, contact attorney David Boertje today for a free consultation.