CALCRIM No. 1251. Child Abduction: By Depriving Right to Custody or Visitation (Pen. Code, §§ 277, 278.5)

Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2022 edition)

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1251.Child Abduction: By Depriving Right to Custody or
Visitation (Pen. Code, §§ 277, 278.5)
The defendant is charged [in Count ] with depriving someone else
of the right to (custody/ [or] visitation) [in violation of Penal Code
section 278.5].
To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must
prove that:
1. The defendant (took[,]/ [or] enticed away[,]/ [or] kept[,]/ [or]
withheld[,]/ [or] concealed) a child;
2. The child was under the age of 18;
AND
3. When the defendant acted, (he/she) maliciously (deprived a lawful
custodian of (his/her/its) right to custody/ [or] deprived a person
of a lawful right to visitation).
Someone acts maliciously when he or she intentionally does a wrongful
act or when he or she acts with the unlawful intent to disturb, defraud,
annoy, or injure someone else.
Alawful custodian is a person, guardian, or public agency that has a
right to custody of the child. The right to custody means the right to
physical care, custody, and control of the child according to the law or
because of a court order. [A public agency has the right to custody if it
has been given protective custody or jurisdiction of the care, custody,
control, or conduct of the child by statute or court order.]
[To entice away means to lure away by creating hope or desire.]
[The defendant can be guilty of child abduction whether or not the child
resisted or objected, and even if the child consented to go with the
defendant.]
[Visitation means the time ordered by a court granting someone access to
the child.]
[Under the law, a person becomes one year older as soon as the first
minute of his or her birthday has begun.]
New January 2006
BENCH NOTES
Instructional Duty
The court has a sua sponte duty to give an instruction defining the elements of the
crime.
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If requested, give the final bracketed sentence in the paragraph defining “lawful
custodian” if there is evidence that a public agency was the lawful custodian at the
time of the alleged abduction. (See Pen. Code, § 277(e).)
If requested, give the bracketed paragraph defining “entice away” (see People v.
Torres (1920) 48 Cal.App. 606, 609 [192 P. 175]) depending on the evidence in the
case.
If requested, give the bracketed paragraph about the child’s consent or lack of
resistance if there is evidence the child did not resist or consented to go with the
defendant. (People v. Moore (1945) 67 Cal.App.2d 789, 792 [155 P.2d 403] [child’s
consent irrelevant]; People v. Grever (1989) 211 Cal.App.3d Supp. 1, 7 [259
Cal.Rptr. 469].)
If requested, give the bracketed paragraph regarding visitation if evidence is
presented that the defendant deprived another person of his or her right to visitation.
(See Pen. Code, §§ 277(h), 278.5(a).)
Give the final bracketed paragraph about calculating age if requested. (Fam. Code,
§ 6500; In re Harris (1993) 5 Cal.4th 813, 849-850 [21 Cal.Rptr.2d 373, 855 P.2d
391].)
AUTHORITY
Elements. Pen. Code, §§ 277, 278.5.
Court Order or Custody Order Defined. Pen. Code, § 277(b).
Custody Proceeding Defined. Pen. Code, § 277(c).
Maliciously Defined. Pen. Code, § 7(4).
Person Defined. Pen. Code, § 277(i) [includes parent or an agent of a parent].
Child’s Consent Irrelevant. People v. Moore (1945) 67 Cal.App.2d 789, 792
[155 P.2d 403] [crime against parent]; People v. Grever (1989) 211 Cal.App.3d
Supp. 1, 7 [259 Cal.Rptr. 469].
COMMENTARY
A crime under Penal Code section 278.5 is sometimes referred to as “child
detention.” (See People v. Moses (1996) 43 Cal.App.4th 462, 464, fn. 2 [50
Cal.Rptr.2d 665].) This instruction uses the phrase “depriving someone else of the
right to (custody/ [or] visitation)” to avoid any confusion with detention under Penal
Code section 278, the general child abduction statute.
LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSES
Attempted Child Detention. Pen. Code, §§ 664, 278.5.
Section 278.5 does not limit the court’s contempt power. (Pen. Code, § 278.5(b).)
Contempt is not a lesser included offense of a crime under section 278.5. There is
no sua sponte duty to instruct on contempt. (People v. Moses (1996) 43 Cal.App.4th
462, 469, 471 [50 Cal.Rptr.2d 665].)
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RELATED ISSUES
Custody Order After Abduction
A custody order obtained after the abduction of a child is not a defense to a crime
charged under section 278.5. (Pen. Code, § 278.5(c).)
SECONDARY SOURCES
1 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (4th ed. 2012) Crimes Against the
Person, §§ 318, 328-329.
5 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 91,
Sentencing, § 91.38[2] (Matthew Bender).
6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 142, Crimes
Against the Person, § 142.14[2][b], [c], [3] (Matthew Bender).
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