Child Abduction FAQs

What is an abduction?

An abduction occurs when a person unlawfully takes and withholds a child from his/her custodial parent, legal guardian or person with legal visitation rights. Abduction is a felony crime under California law, punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

If a parent or family member takes and withholds a child from the other parent, legal guardian or person with legal visitation rights, is it considered an abduction?

Yes. The majority of child abductions are committed by a mother, father, grandparent or other relative. If a family member believes a child is in danger with the custodial parent, legal guardian or person with visitation rights, the concerned family member may, in some instances and if certain legal conditions are met, lawfully take and keep the child.

What should I do if my child is abducted?

1. File a police report. Contact the local police department or sheriff’s station that serves your area. Ask the police to generate a missing person's report on your child and to enter the information into the National Crime Information Center computer system.

2. Contact the District Attorney's Child Abduction Section at (213) 257-2600. We may be able to assist in locating your child. For more information, please click here.

3. Contact other agencies for assistance. Several private agencies also help locate missing and abducted children. The largest is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678.

Other groups and agencies devoted to locating missing and abducted children include:

Los Angeles County Missing and Abducted Foster Children

International Child Abduction Information

State Department Country-by-Country Abduction Information