Child Abduction FAQs

What is an abduction?
Child abduction occurs when someone takes, entices away, keeps, withholds, or conceals a child in violation of a custody or visitation order.
Can a family member abduct their own child?
Yes. In fact, the majority of abductions are committed by family members. Not only does child abduction involve a violation of Family Court, Juvenile Court and/or Probate Court orders, but it also involves a felony violation of the law. The punishment for committing such a crime can be up to four years in prison and a $10,000 fine, even if the abductor is a family member.
What to do if your child is abducted:
File a police report. They will require that you have certified copies of your most recent court orders regarding custody. Also, request the law enforcement agency place your child in the National Crime Information Computer System (NCIC). If you have a valid custody order, you can contact our Parental Child Abduction Unit using the link on this website, or by calling 916- 875-0096. You will be contacted within two business days. For additional assistance, you may wish to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1.800.843.5678.
Can your office help me obtain a custody order?
No. By statute, the District Attorney's Office cannot represent a party. You must retain private counsel or proceed on your own. The Sacramento County Superior Court website (www.saccourt.ca.gov) contains information to assist you in Family Law matters.
What is "Good Cause" Notification to the District Attorney?
Pursuant to Penal Code Section 278.7, parental abduction does not apply to a person with a right of custody or a victim of domestic violence who has good faith and reasonable belief that their child will suffer immediate bodily injury or emotional harm if left with the other person takes, keeps, withholds, or conceals the child. But that person must:
  • Make a report of the taking within a reasonable amount of time to the District Attorney's Office of the county where the child resided before the taking (as soon as possible, but no later than 10 days),
  • Commence a custody proceeding within a reasonable time from the taking (as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days), and
  • Inform the district attorney of any change of address or phone number of the person and the child.
If you do not have a legally allowable reason for taking or keeping the child, you could face charges of child abduction.

  • Click here to file a report of good cause.
  • Click here to update your address and phone number on your good cause notification.
Can I file a "Child Visitation Violation" with the District Attorney's Office?
Yes. The Sacramento County District Attorney's Child Abduction Unit accepts reports of violations of court ordered visitation, but does not investigate the reports. The reports serve only as a method for the reporting party to document the violation for use in family court proceedings, if appropriate.

Click here to file a visitation report.

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