Child Abduction Unit
The Napa County District Attorney's Office operates a Child Abduction Unit (CAU) to carry out State mandated responsibilities, pursuant to California Family Code Sections 3130 - 3131, as follows:
Family Code Section 3130 provides that, in some cases where there is an order to appear for purposes of deciding issues involving child custody, the District Attorney shall take all actions necessary to locate the party who has been ordered to appear and the child, and to ensure that party complies with the court’s order.
Family Code Section 3131 provides that when the court has issued such an order to appear, and the child is taken or detained in violation of the order, the District Attorney shall take all actions necessary to locate and return the child and the person violating the order and assist in the enforcement of court orders through civil or criminal proceedings.
The responsibilities of the Napa County District Attorney’s Office Child Abduction Unit include the following:
- Locating and recovering abducted children;
- Assisting the court in enforcing an order to appear for the purpose of deciding issues involving child custody
- Prosecuting crimes involving child abduction, detainment, and concealment;*
- Returning recovered children to their legal custodian, as ordered by the court.
*Prosecution of the abductor is considered on a case by case basis. If the case is prosecuted, the left behind parent is considered the victim/witness. The District Attorney acts on behalf of the People of the State of California. The District Attorney does not represent either party in a custody dispute.
What to Do if Your Child Has Been Abducted by a Family Member
We advise that you:
- File a missing person's report with local police. The police will forward a copy of their report to the District Attorney's Office, Child Abduction Unit (CAU);
- Contact the Child Abduction Unit in your county. Every District Attorney’s Office has one. The number for Napa County is 707-253-4356;
- Obtain a court order for custody of your child, if you do not already have one. If there is no custody order in effect, both parents are considered to have equal legal custody. If no permanent order is in place, a temporary custody order may be issued by the court. The parent or legal guardian is responsible for obtaining a custody order. The Child Abduction Unit cannot obtain this order for you.
Children Taken Out-of-State / Out-of-County
If your child is taken out of the State of California, the CAU will use the resources available to locate and recover the child, including interstate compacts and federal agencies. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) requires each state to recognize valid custody orders issued in another state.
If your child is taken out of the United States, the CAU will use the resources available to locate and recover the child, including federal treaties and the services of the State Department in Washington, D.C. It is essential that a custody order be in place. Without a custody order, some countries will not recognize that an abduction has occurred.
The United States is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. In cases involving another country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention, the Office of Children's Issues at the State Department will assist parents in filing the necessary application with foreign authorities, and works with the Child Abduction Unit, U.S embassies and consulates to help facilitate locating and returning the child. If the child has been taken to a country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, the Office of Children's Issues will provide the Child Abduction Unit with information concerning the laws and customs of that country, and with referrals to attorneys experienced in parental abduction law and the family law of that country.