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Interference With Custody

2C:13-4. Interference with custody

a. Custody of children. A person, including a parent, guardian, or other lawful custodian, is guilty of interference with custody if he:

(1) Takes or detains a minor child with the purpose of concealing the minor child and thereby depriving the child’s other parent of custody or parenting time with the minor child; or

(2) After being served with process or having actual knowledge of an action affecting marriage or custody but prior to the issuance of a temporary or final order determining custody and parenting time rights to a minor child, takes, detains, entices, or conceals the child within or outside the State for the purpose of depriving the child’s other parent of custody or parenting time, or to evade the jurisdiction of the courts of this State; or

(3) After being served with process or having actual knowledge of an action affecting the protective services needs of a child pursuant to Title 9 of the Revised Statutes in an action affecting custody, but prior to the issuance of a temporary or final order determining custody rights of a minor child, takes, detains, entices, or conceals the child within or outside the State for the purpose of evading the jurisdiction of the courts of this State; or

(4) After the issuance of a temporary or final order specifying custody, joint custody rights or parenting time, takes, detains, entices, or conceals a minor child from the other parent in violation of the custody or parenting time order.

Interference with custody is a crime of the second degree if the child is taken, detained, enticed, or concealed: (i) outside the United States or (ii) for more than 24 hours. Otherwise, interference with custody is a crime of the third degree but the presumption of non-imprisonment set forth in subsection e. ofN.J.S.2C:44-1 for a first offense of a crime of the third degree shall not apply.

b. Custody of committed persons. A person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree if he knowingly takes or entices any committed person away from lawful custody when he is not privileged to do so. “Committed person” means, in addition to anyone committed under judicial warrant, any orphan, neglected, or delinquent child, person with a mental disease, defect, or illness, or other dependent or incompetent person, entrusted to another’s custody by or through a recognized social agency or otherwise by authority of law.

c. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under subsection a. of this section, which must be proved by clear and convincing evidence, that:

(1) The actor reasonably believed that the action was necessary to preserve the child from imminent danger to his welfare. However, no defense shall be available pursuant to this subsection if the actor does not, as soon as reasonably practicable but in no event more than 24 hours after taking a child under his protection, give notice of the child’s location to the police department of the municipality where the child resided, the office of the county prosecutor in the county where the child resided, or the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families;

(2) The actor reasonably believed that the taking or detaining of the minor child was consented to by the other parent, or by an authorized State agency; or

(3) The child, being at the time of the taking or concealment not less than 14 years old, was taken away at his own volition and without purpose to commit a criminal offense with or against the child.

d. It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under subsection a. of this section that a parent having the right of custody reasonably believed he was fleeing from imminent physical danger from the other parent, provided that the parent having custody, as soon as reasonably practicable:

(1) Gives notice of the child’s location to the police department of the municipality where the child resided, the office of the county prosecutor in the county where the child resided, or the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families; or

(2) Commences an action affecting custody in an appropriate court.

e. The offenses enumerated in this section are continuous in nature and continue for so long as the child is concealed or detained.

f. (1) In addition to any other disposition provided by law, a person convicted under subsection a. of this section shall make restitution of all reasonable expenses and costs, including reasonable counsel fees, incurred by the other parent in securing the child’s return.

(2) In imposing sentence under subsection a. of this section the court shall consider, in addition to the factors enumerated in chapter 44 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes:

(a) Whether the person returned the child voluntarily; and

(b) The length of time the child was concealed or detained.

g. As used in this section, “parent” means a parent, guardian or other lawful custodian of a minor child.