TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART I - CRIMES
CHAPTER 55 - KIDNAPPING
Sec. 1204. International parental kidnapping
(a) Whoever removes a child from the United States, or attempts
to do so, or retains a child (who has been in the United States)
outside the United States with intent to obstruct the lawful
exercise of parental rights shall be fined under this title or
imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both.
(b) As used in this section -
(1) the term "child" means a person who has not attained the
age of 16 years; and
(2) the term "parental rights", with respect to a child, means
the right to physical custody of the child -
(A) whether joint or sole (and includes visiting rights); and
(B) whether arising by operation of law, court order, or
legally binding agreement of the parties.
(c) It shall be an affirmative defense under this section that -
(1) the defendant acted within the provisions of a valid court
order granting the defendant legal custody or visitation rights
and that order was obtained pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody
Jurisdiction Act or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and
Enforcement Act and was in effect at the time of the offense;
(2) the defendant was fleeing an incidence or pattern of
domestic violence; or
(3) the defendant had physical custody of the child pursuant to
a court order granting legal custody or visitation rights and
failed to return the child as a result of circumstances beyond
the defendant's control, and the defendant notified or made
reasonable attempts to notify the other parent or lawful
custodian of the child of such circumstances within 24 hours
after the visitation period had expired and returned the child as
soon as possible.
(d) This section does not detract from The Hague Convention on
the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction, done
at The Hague on October 25, 1980.
(Added Pub. L. 103-173, Sec. 2(a), Dec. 2, 1993, 107 Stat. 1998;
amended Pub. L. 108-21, title I, Sec. 107, Apr. 30, 2003, 117 Stat.
2003 - Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 108-21, Sec. 107(1), inserted ", or
attempts to do so," before "or retains".
Subsec. (c)(1). Pub. L. 108-21, Sec. 107(2)(A), inserted "or the
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act" before "and
Subsec. (c)(2). Pub. L. 108-21, Sec. 107(2)(B), inserted "or"
after semicolon at end.
SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING USE OF PROCEDURES UNDER THE HAGUE
CONVENTION ON THE CIVIL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL PARENTAL CHILD
Section 2(b) of Pub. L. 103-173 provided that: "It is the sense
of the Congress that, inasmuch as use of the procedures under the
Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental
Child Abduction has resulted in the return of many children, those
procedures, in circumstances in which they are applicable, should
be the option of first choice for a parent who seeks the return of
a child who has been removed from the parent."
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