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Child Custody Violations as Kidnapping in Nevada

Nevada law provides for harsh penalties if you violate a child custody order. Those penalties can even impact a parent that shares joint custody with the other parent. The offense can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are under suspicion for violating a child custody order then immediately contact an attorney before you make any statements to a law enforcement officer investigating a criminal accusation. 

Call the attorneys at Mills, Mills & Anderson to discuss your case involving felony accusations of violating a child custody order. We can answer your questions and help protect you from an unjust prosecution. We are also experienced family law attorneys in Las Vegas, NV, that handle complex child custody cases. When appropriate, we can help you modify the underlying child custody order so that no future violations occur.

Call (702) 386-0030 today to discuss your case.


Nevada’s Statute 200.359 for Child Custody Violations as Kidnapping

Under NRS 200.359(1), it is a crime to detain, conceal or remove a child from another person having lawful custody or from the jurisdiction of court. The statute provides that the crime can be charged as a category D felony punishable by 1 - 4 years in Nevada State prison and a fine of up to $5,000. A violation of NRS 193.130 occurs only if the following elements can be proven at trial beyond all reasonable doubt:

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 right 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,

Under NRS 200.359(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 violation of NRS 200.359(2) is also classified as a category D felony.

Under NRS 200.359(3), if the mother of a child has primary physical custody pursuant to subsection 2 of NRS 126.031, the father of the child shall not willfully conceal or remove the child from the physical custody of the mother.

Likewise, if the father of a child has primary physical custody pursuant to subsection 2 of NRS 126.031, the mother of the child shall not willfully conceal or remove the child from the physical custody of the father.

A person who violates this subsection shall be punished as a category D felony.


Arrest Warrants for Child Custody Violations

NRS 200.359(4) provides that before an arrest warrant may be issued for a violation of this statute, the court must make the following factual findings:

  1. The State of Nevada is the home state of the child, as defined in NRS 125A.085; and
  2. There is cause to believe that the entry of a court order in a civil proceeding brought pursuant to chapter 125, 125A or 125C of NRS will not be effective to enforce the rights of the parties and would not be in the best interests of the child.

In addition to the other criminal penalties provided by Nevada law, the crime for a child custody violation might also come with an order to pay restitution for any expenses incurred in locating or recovering the child. See NRS 200.359(5).


Misdemeanor Penalties for Child Custody Violations

Under NRS 200.359(6), the prosecuting attorney may recommend to the judge that the defendant is sentenced as for a misdemeanor. The judge may impose such a misdemeanor sentence instead of a sentence for a category D felony if the judge makes the following factual findings:

  1. The defendant has no prior conviction for this offense and the child has suffered no substantial harm as a result of the offense; or
  2. The interests of justice require that the defendant is punished for a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

As a misdemeanor, the offense is punishable by up to six months in jail and or a $1,000 fine.


Aids and Abets a Child Custody Violation

NRS 200.359(7) makes it a category D felony to aid or abet another person in violation the child custody statute.


Exceptions to the Child Custody Violation Statute

NRS 200.359(8) provides that the statute does not apply to a person who detains, conceals or removes a child to protect the child from the imminent danger of abuse or neglect or to protect himself or herself from imminent physical harm, and reported the detention, concealment or removal to a law enforcement agency or an agency which provides child welfare services within 24 hours after detaining, concealing or removing the child, or as soon as the circumstances allowed.


Definition in the Child Custody Violation Statute

Nevada’s child custody violation statute defines the term “abuse or neglect” as having the same meaning ascribed to it in paragraph (a) of subsection 4 of NRS 200.508. That statute provides:

“‘Abuse or neglect’ means physical or mental injury of a nonaccidental nature, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child under the age of 18 years, as set forth in paragraph (d) and NRS 432B.070, 432B.100, 432B.110, 432B.140 and 432B.150, under circumstances which indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm.”

The term “agency which provides child welfare services” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 432B.030. That provision provides “agency which provides child welfare services” means:

  1. In a county whose population is less than 100,000, the local office of the Division of Child and Family Services; or
  2. In a county whose population is 100,000 or more, the agency of the county, which provides or arranges for necessary child welfare services.

Additional Resources

Modification of Child Custody to Move or Relocate Out of the State of Nevada - Learn more about the process the custodial parent must go through before moving out of state with the child. If the other parent does not agree with the move, then the custodial parent must petition the court for permission to move out of the State of Nevada in a modification action of the underlying order. Modifications of child custody and visitation agreements are particularly common in military divorces where the parents might move more often.


Finding an Attorney for Felony Child Custody Violations

If you are accused of violating a child custody order, then contact the experienced attorneys at Mills, Mills & Anderson to discuss your case. We represent clients throughout Clark County including Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas. Call to schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss your case. Find out what you need to do today to protect yourself against an unjust prosecution.

Call (702) 386-0030 today to discuss the facts of your particular case.

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