When it comes to their children, some parents will risk the criminal kidnapping sanctions by attempting to take their children away from a foster home or from the other parent where they have been placed by the court. The penalties from that effort are usually quick and severe, leading to even less time with their youngsters than before. In New York, two women were charged recently with felony charges for taking the two daughters of one of them and hiding them for 11 months until they were found.
The New York State Police arrested both women in Broome County this past week. The girls were 15 and 13 years old a year ago, when they were initially considered to be runaways from a foster family. One of the women allegedly used her premises to shelter the girls on behalf of her friend, who was the mother. State troopers reportedly tracked down numerous leads during an 11-month investigation.
The district attorney reportedly told the press that the girls were apparently not held against their will. In that connection, defense counsel will consider defending on the basis of their being no actual kidnapping. However, state statutes generally provide criminal sanctions for taking children in violation of court orders. It may be that a plea bargain will carry less risk and be a better disposition for both women.
The mother's defense counsel will evaluate whether or not to stress the mother's anguish and need to be with her children as a mitigating factor. The girls' testimony may also help their mother to glean some understanding from the New York state court judge. For the friend who sheltered the children, the defense may be more difficult since she should have, in an ideal world, counseled her friend to weather the system to get her children back. Only a seasoned criminal defense counsel will be able to deftly present the friend's plight to the court in an empathetic manner. Generally, counsel will also argue these and other points in trying to get the district attorney's office to reduce the felony charges to misdemeanors.
Source: syracuse.com, "Mom charged with kidnapping 2 Broome County teens", Samantha House, Mar. 12, 2016