Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers Handling Custody Issues in Texas
Criminal charges arising from enticing a child from custody often occur when one parent who does not have custody of the child manipulates another parent’s relationship with the child or obstructs the other parent’s ability to access the child. If you have been charged with enticing a child from the custodial parent’s custody, the prosecutor must prove you committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be a very difficult burden of proof to satisfy, and if the judge or jury has any doubt you committed every element to the interference with child custody offense, the charges against you may be reduced or even dismissed. Therefore, it is important to contact an attorney who is experienced in these types of situations and can assist you in developing the best legal defense for your particular set of circumstances.
The attorneys of Stuckle & Associates PLLC are knowledgeable in all areas of family violence laws and will make every effort to help you avoid the most serious penalties and repercussions to your alleged offense. Call (972) 423-4405 if you have been charged with committing interference with child custody and would like to review your legal options with highly qualified local counsel.
Common Instances of Custody Interference
In Texas, interference with child custody often occurs when:
- One parent takes possession of the child during the other parent’s time of possession (unless otherwise agreed to or during an emergency);
- One parent schedules a fun activity for the child during the other parent’s time of possession;
- One parent makes it difficult or impossible for the other parent to communicate with the child;
- The child is not at home or available for the other parent to pick up during their time of possession; and/or
- One parent refuses to let the other parent have access to the child when it is their time for possession.
If an individual does attempt to interfere with another parent’s custody of a child or continually interferes with the other parent’s custody, the court may modify the child custody, possession and access plan of the child in order to allow the parents to co-parent in the best interest of the child. If one parent often interferes with another parent’s custody, it may be an indication the current child custody plan is not in the best interest of the child.
Who Can Be Charged With Interfering in Custody Matters?
As defined in section 25.04 of the Texas Penal Code, an individual can be charged with this offense if they knowingly entice, persuade or take a child under the age of 18 from the custody of the child’s rightful parent or guardian.
Any person can be charged with this offense if they attempt to remove a child from the rightful parent’s custody, including grandparents, relatives, step-parents, ex-spouses, strangers, nannies and/or babysitters.
Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code defines the general penalties and punishments for an interference with child custody conviction.
- A conviction for enticing a child from custody is generally punishable as a Class B Misdemeanor, which can result in a jail sentence up to 180 days and/or a fine up to $2,000.
- However, a conviction for enticing a child from custody can be punishable as a felony of the third degree, which can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and/or a fine up to $10,000, if it is shown at trial the alleged offender intended to commit a felony against the child.
Additionally, an individual convicted if interference with child custody can face increased penalties, depending on any of the following factors:
- If the alleged offender is considered a repeat felony offender,
- If the alleged offender is considered a habitual offender,
- If the alleged offender had any previous criminal conviction, and/or
- If the alleged offender caused death or serious bodily injury to the child.
General Defenses Against Charges
In many cases involving enticing a child in Texas, the alleged offender may have a variety of defenses available to the circumstances of their case. Since these defenses may not apply to every situation involving enticing a child, it is very important to contact an experienced lawyer to help you identify whether any of the defenses listed below are applicable to your particular situation.
- An individual accused of enticing a child may be able to assert they acted under duress, or they committed a criminal act due to the imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death to themselves or another person.
- An individual accused of enticing a child may be able to claim they failed to have the required mental state of acting knowingly or with the knowledge to commit the alleged offense.
- An individual accused of enticing a child may be able to claim they committed the offense due to some type of necessity or their actions were justified.
- An individual may assert they have an alibi if they were accused of an enticing a child offense.
Contest Your Charges With the Help of Our Experienced Attorneys
If you are facing false or exaggerated charges in Texas, contact Stuckle & Associates PLLC today. Our lawyers will make every effort to help you achieve the most desirable outcome for your particular situation. Call (972) 423-4405 to set up your first consultation.