This article talks about on how the offence of child abduction is committed and punished, including the possible defences available to the accused when charged of the offence under Crimes Act 1900 of NSW.
It should be noted that the offence of abduction relates to situations where a person’s liberty is removed. This occurs both when a victim is forcibly taken somewhere against their wishes and when a person is forced to remain in a particular location. (NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Crime and Justice Bulletin 2006, p. 2)
In determining the act that constitutes the offence of child abduction, it is not always necessary that the abducted child must be transported from one place to another. It may also include the act of forcing the child from remaining at the particular place.
The offence of child abduction is committed by forcibly depriving the person of his lawful authority over a child. For this offence to be committed, the victim must be a child. Under the law, for purposes of the offence of child abduction, a child means a child under the age of 12 years. There is child abduction if a person takes or detains a child with the intention of removing or keeping the child from the lawful control or any person having parental responsibility for the child, without the consent of that person. An offence of child abduction is also committed if a person takes or detains a child with the intention of stealing from the child. (Section 87, Crimes Act 1900).
The law provides that the offence is committed through the act of “taking” the child or “detaining” the child. Taking a child includes causing the child to accompany a person and causing the child to be taken. Detaining a child includes causing the child to remain where he or she is.
It should be noted that the person deprived of parental authority over the child taken or detained by the offender is not necessarily the parent of the said child. The law extended the concept of parental authority for purposes of this offence. Thus, the law provides that a person who has parental authority is not only a person who has, in relation to a child, all the duties, powers, responsibilities and authority that, by law, parents have in relation to their children; but also a person authorised to be the carer of the child under an Act relating to the care and protection of children. It can be deduced that even the parent of the child may be the offender of this offence by depriving a person of his parental authority over the child by taking or detaining the child.
The intention of the taker or detainer of the child is limited only to removing or keeping the child from lawful control of any person having parental responsibility for the child or stealing from the child.
The offence of child abduction is governed by Section 87 of Crimes Act 1900.
The accused in the charge of child abduction may allege in his defence that the victim is over 12 years of age at the time of the abduction. It may be an issue in the offence of child abduction on whether or not the offender has lawful parental authority over the child. Thus, a person who is charged of the offence of child abduction may defend that he or she could not commit the offence of child abduction because he or she possesses the rightful authority over the child. And since the offence of child abduction can only be committed if the person who has parental authority over the child did not consent of the taking or detaining, the accused, by way of defence, may allege that the person who has parental authority has in fact consented to the taking or detaining.
The penalty imposed upon the person convicted of the offence of child abduction is 10 years of imprisonment regardless of whether the intention of the accused was to remove or keep the child from the parental responsibility of another person or stealing from the child.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.