Child Abduction Solicitors

If you have been accused of abduction or kidnapping, it is imperative that you seek highly experienced legal advice immediately. The earlier our expert legal team are involved, the quicker we can make a strong argument for your defence and obtain a positive outcome.

Without a strong defence and support on your side, being accused of committing abduction or kidnapping can lead to devastating consequences.

Our specialist team of solicitors at Lawtons can assist with any criminal case relating to accusations concerning the abduction or kidnapping of a child.

At Lawtons, we have worked on a number of these complex cases and we have the necessary expertise to achieve the best possible outcome in your individual case.

What is the difference between abduction and kidnapping?

UK law distinguishes clearly between acts of abduction and kidnap. Abduction is defined as taking a person or child away from a person or place which he or she should lawfully be with. Typically this is where a person takes a child from a person or persons with parental control. The legal definition of kidnapping is to take someone unwillingly and then keep them illegally imprisoned without their valid consent. The latter is normally done with motive, such as financial gain in the form of a ransom.

Consent which is obtained by fear or force will not be considered as true or valid consent by law.

To be successfully prosecuted, the prosecution must demonstrate that the person kidnapped was taken without their valid consent and held unlawfully against their will. In cases of child abduction, it is not a defence to show that the child went willingly. For example, if a child goes with their father – and that father takes the child outside of the country and does not have parental control or consent of the mother – there are circumstances where they can be investigated for abduction.

What is the difference between kidnapping and false imprisonment?

The offence of false imprisonment can be related to the offence of kidnapping, but it differs in that for kidnap to take place, the victim must be physically taken away rather than simply detained against their will.

What is the sentence for kidnapping and abduction?

Kidnap and abduction are serious criminal offences which can only be heard in the Crown Court.

The sentence for an act of kidnap or abduction will depend on a number of factors.

If the offence is regarded as minor – such as as a result of a family dispute – the sentence will reflect the level of severity. A parent taking custody of their child could be found guilty of the criminal offence of kidnapping if they are in breach of a court order.

If the act was planned or violent, or a firearm was used, the offence is deemed to be more severe, with a sentence of around 8 years in prison.

Factors which will be considered when a sentence is decided for kidnap or abduction include:

  1. Any attacks on the victim’s person (including assault and rape)
  2. The level of violence used in the act
  3. Whether the victim was taken across a country border

If a child was the victim of the kidnap or abduction, the offence will be tried under the Child Abduction Act 1984. This is particularly prevalent if the child is taken out of the United Kingdom without the permission or consent of their parent or legal guardian.

What to do if you are accused of abduction or kidnapping

If you have been accused of kidnap or abduction, it is essential to consult a specialist criminal solicitor as soon as you are able to do so. An experienced solicitor will have the necessary experience and knowledge to advise you in this complex area of the law.

For more information or to discuss your individual case with our team of specialist solicitors, please get in touch or call us on 0333 577 0522.

FAQs about Child Abduction & Kidnapping

Can a mother stop a father from seeing a child in the UK?

Contact can only be refused where there is good reason, such as a safety issue. In most cases a court will see that both parents’ involvement will benefit a child’s welfare. If there is already a court order in place for contact, refusal to allow the contact to take place may amount to contempt of court and possibly further legal action.

Can I take my child out of the country or keep the child in another country without the consent of the other parent?

No, it’s a criminal offence for a parent to do this without the other parent’s consent. This would be considered to be child abduction and could result in a prison sentence.

What’s the Hague Convention?

The Hague Convention protects children and their families in an agreement between various countries that can help return an abducted child from certain countries.