Parental Kidnapping in New Jersey

When people hear the word “kidnapping,” they imagine an extreme scenario, such as a hostage situation or a victim being held at gunpoint. However, in reality, kidnapping charges can stem from a custody dispute issue that gets out of hand. Kidnappings aren't commonly committed by complete strangers, but by someone that the victim trusts, like a family member. 

Parental abductions have become increasingly common over the years for a variety of reasons. For one, more couples from different countries are marrying, and the divorce rate is at an all-time high. Also, parents who disagree with a custody agreement will choose to defy an order and take matters into their own hands. As a result, more than 200,000 parental kidnappings happen every year. This crime can lead to serious ramifications for everyone involved, but obviously, child victims are most affected. 

Parental kidnapping is more than a custody dispute, it's illegal. If you're criminally charged, it's easy for well-intentioned behavior on your behalf to spiral out of control into a serious legal crisis. If you've been accused of parental kidnapping, contact Joseph D. Lento today.

What Constitutes “Parental Kidnapping” in New Jersey?

According to New Jersey law, parental kidnapping is constituted when they:

  • Detain a minor child with the purpose of concealing the child, thereby depriving the other parent of custody/parenting time
  • Detain or conceal a minor child to evade the jurisdiction of NJ courts in anticipation of a legal order that will affect their custody or the protective services needs of the child
  • Detail or conceal a minor child in violation of a court-issued custody/parenting time order


Parental kidnapping is punishable by a fine of up to $150,000 and 5 to 10 years in prison.


An indictment for parental kidnapping charges is determined by the prevalence of a number of factors. Attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm has an adept knowledge of the elements in a case that must be proven to prosecute a defendant of parental kidnapping, and therefore understands the potential defenses to assert to disprove these elements. A defense can be convincing that it leads to a defendant's sentence being reduced or dismissed. A solid defense can even lead to the dismissal of your case altogether. The following defenses could possibly be asserted in your case if applicable: 

  • There was an imminent threat of domestic violence or child abuse, and the offending parent contact the police, county prosecutor, or the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) to disclose the location of the child within 24 hours
  • The offending parent seriously believed they had the consent of the other parent to deviate from the custody arrangement
  • The child is older than 14 years of age and left of his/her volition

New Jersey Family Law & Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you're arrested for parental kidnapping, you shouldn't rely on your divorce attorney for help. Get the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer to build a case for you and represent you. Remember to not discuss the circumstances of an incident without an attorney present. If the police attempt to question you, you should decline to answer and request an attorney.

If it's only a civil matter, you need the help of a seasoned family law attorney. Joseph D. Lento is well-versed in both areas of law. He will provide you with options in these predicaments. He keeps flexible office hours and is willing to work around your schedule.  To set up a consultation or for more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm either online or by phone at 888-535-3686.

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience practicing Family Law in New Jersey. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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