The Nevada State Children's Advocate further serves the interests of child safety in Nevada by serving as the primary prosecutorial agency in Clark County for criminal reports of child abductions. The prosecutions outside of Clark County are conducted by Nevada's cadre of experienced district attorneys. Several criminal statutes are at the disposal of Nevada prosecutors for charging cases of child abductions and related crimes.
NRS 200.310 creates the crime of Kidnapping. The essence of a Kidnapping charge is that the perpetrator seizes another person and controls his movements with the intent to detain him or to seek ransom, or that a perpetrator seizes a child with the intent to conceal him from his legal guardian. Reduced to its most simple core, the crime is a kind of unlawful imprisonment of another person. The Nevada Legislature defined the crime as follows:
NRS 200.310 Degrees.
1. A person who willfully seizes, confines, inveigles, entices, decoys, abducts, conceals, kidnaps or carries away a person by any means whatsoever with the intent to hold or detain, or who holds or detains the person for ransom, or reward, or for the purpose of committing sexual assault, extortion or robbery upon or from the person, or for the purpose of killing the person or inflicting substantial bodily harm upon him, or to exact from relatives, friends, or any other person any money or valuable thing for the return or disposition of the kidnapped person, and a person who leads, takes, entices, or carries away or detains any minor with the intent to keep, imprison, or confine him from his parents, guardians, or any other person having lawful custody of the minor, or with the intent to hold the minor to unlawful service, or perpetrate upon the person of the minor any unlawful act is guilty of kidnapping in the first degree which is a category A felony.
2. A person who willfully and without authority of law seizes, inveigles, takes, carries away or kidnaps another person with the intent to keep the person secretly imprisoned within the State, or for the purpose of conveying the person out of the State without authority of law, or in any manner held to service or detained against his will, is guilty of kidnapping in the second degree which is a category B felony.
Kidnapping is an extremely serious crime that can result in lengthy prison sentences upon conviction, including a sentence of Life in prison. Kidnapping charges can, however, be difficult charges to prove. The Nevada Supreme Court has reversed Kidnapping convictions on the basis that that the prosecutor did not sufficiently prove the element of willful detention of the victim. One other difficulty that prosecutors face in kidnapping cases is proving the criminal intent of the suspect to hold and detain the kidnapping victim for an unlawful purpose.
NRS 200.359 criminalizes the detention, concealment or removal of a child from a person having legal custody over him or her. It reads as follows:
NRS 200.359 Detention, concealment or removal of child from person having lawful custody or from jurisdiction of court; penalties; limitation on issuance of arrest warrant; restitution; exceptions.
1. A person having a limited right of custody to a child by operation of law or pursuant to an order, judgment or decree of any court, including a judgment or decree which grants another person rights to custody or visitation of the child, or any parent having no right of custody to the child who:
(a) In violation of an order, judgment or decree of any court willfully detains, conceals or removes the child from a parent, guardian or other person having lawful custody or a right of visitation of the child; or
(b) In the case of an order, judgment or decree of any court that does not specify when the right to physical custody or visitation is to be exercised, removes the child from the jurisdiction of the court without the consent of either the court or all persons who have the right to custody or visitation,
Is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
2. A parent who has joint legal custody of a child pursuant to NRS 125.465 shall not willfully conceal or remove the child from the custody of the other parent with the specific intent to deprive the other parent of the parent and child relationship. A person who violates this subsection shall be punished as provided in subsection 1.
The crime of Detention, Concealment or Removal of a child is somewhat similar to Kidnapping, but has several different elements. It focuses on the actions of parents and guardians, and aims to protect the parent-child relationship of the other parent. It is aimed at deterring parents from abusing the rights to a relationship they enjoy by undermining the shared relationship between the child and the other parent. Approximately 20 years ago, legislatures around the country began to notice that family abductions were on the rise, and that traditional Kidnapping statutes often provided no protection or little protection because of the notion that one could not kidnap his or her own children. State appellate courts had, in fact, handed down such rulings, some of them even being of fairly recent origin. This statute clarifies that it is the parent-child relationship that is the focus of the criminal charge, and the legal presumption that it is usually in the best interests of a child to have an on-going relationship with both parents.