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Child Abduction Unit Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should I do if my child is abducted?
A:

  1. If possible, you should immediately contact your local police or sheriff's department and file a report. This should be done whether or not a custody order exists. If you have certified copies of a custody order, provide those to the officer at the time of the report. The law enforcement agency will place your child's name in the National Crime Information Center system, a national database that maintains critical information on missing children throughout the United States.

  2. Obtain a custody order if you do not already have one. Although a custody order is not required to report an abduction as a crime, having a custody order, or at least filing for custody in Family Law Court, can lead to other resources to assist you in locating and recovering your child. You can download family law forms by clicking here and going to Family Law in the directory.

  3. After you file the initial report, immediately contact the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, Child Abduction Unit for further assistance. Any person seeking assistance will be required to fill out a questionnaire. The questionnaire may be obtained from one of the following office locations:

Riverside:
3960 Orange Street,
Riverside, CA 92501
(951) 955-5659
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Indio:
82-675 Highway 111, 4th Floor
Indio, CA 92201
(760) 863-8468
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Southwest:
30045 Technology Dr., Suite 103
Murrieta, CA 92563
(951) 304-5450
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Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Q: Can the District Attorney's Office help me obtain a custody order?
A: No. By statute the District Attorney's Office does not and can not represent a party. You must secure a custody order from a court of competent jurisdiction either through the assistance of private counsel or on your own (pro per status). The Riverside County Superior Court has established the 
Family Law Assistance Center (FLAC) for people who want to proceed with an action on their own. FLAC offices are located at the following courthouses:

Riverside Family Law Court
4175 Main Street
Riverside, CA 92501
(951) 777-3147
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Business Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Hemet Family Law Court
880 N. State Street
Hemet, CA 92543
(951) 306-3561
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Business Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Indio Family Law Court
46-200 Oasis Street
Indio, CA 92201
(760) 863-8209
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Business Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Blythe Family Law Court
265 N. Broadway
Blythe, CA 92225
(760) 775-8500
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Business Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

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Q: Can a family member abduct his or her own child?
A: Yes. The majority of abductions are committed by a mother, father, grandparent, or other relative. If a parent takes their child and conceals the child from the other parent, they are committing a crime. California Penal Code section 278.5 prohibits the taking, enticing away, or concealing a child in order to deprive a lawful custodian of custody or visitation rights. This section applies to parents, grandparents, and others with child custody rights, who conceal the child. The punishment for this crime is a maximum of three years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A custody order is not required for a child abduction to have occurred.

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Q: Are there any exceptions to child abduction?
A: Yes. A child may be taken, concealed, or detained in violation of a custody or visitation order if there is a good faith and reasonable belief that the child or children, if left with another person, will suffer immediate bodily injury or emotional harm. However, if you do take your child or children under this exception, you MUST call the District Attorney's Office Child Abduction Unit immediately. The Child Abduction Unit will initiate a "good cause" exception case to ensure that the proper procedures are followed.

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Q: Does the Riverside County District Attorney's Office only enforce orders issued by Riverside County Superior Court?
A: No. Our office can seek to enforce orders issued by other courts, provided they are valid custody orders. The real criterion for us to assist with enforcement is whether the person seeking our help on a custody enforcement matter is a resident of Riverside County. For example, our office can seek to assist a Riverside County resident even if the order is from a neighboring county. If a resident from another county contacts us with a Riverside County custody order we will direct that person to the child abduction unit in the county in which they reside. The most important factor in deciding jurisdiction is where the person seeking our assistance lives.

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Q: Can the District Attorney's Office assist me if my child was abducted to another country?
A: Yes. The Hague Convention on the
Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty that has been signed by more than 50 countries to expedite the return of children abducted to another country by a family member. The Hague application, once completed, is forwarded to the foreign country where the child or children have been located. This begins a process that eventually ends in a court hearing in that country to determine if the children should be returned to their country of habitual residence. The court in the foreign country does not determine rights of custody or visitation. The purpose of the hearing is strictly jurisdictional, meaning to determine if the child belongs in that country. The Child Abduction Unit will monitor the Hague proceedings and assist the parent in facilitating the return of the child. Click here for a detailed list of countries that participate in the Hague Convention.

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