Davila v. State: Parent Kidnapping Can Happen in Orange County Too

October 20, 2011
By The Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera, Jr. on October 20, 2011 12:58 PM |

In a recent Florida case, Davila v. State, attorneys challenged whether a parent could be charged with kidnapping. And in the case of Baby Lisa Irwin of Kansas City, investigators there have begun looking at the family more than two weeks after the child went missing from her home.
Parent kidnapping can and does happen anywhere in America, including California. Cases of kidnapping in Santa Ana for instance are often based on allegations that a person was taken against his or her will, and sometimes revolve around drug cases or debts that are outstanding. But as the name of the crime implies, the law is written to prevent a child from being taken against his or her will.

According to California Penal Code 207, a child under 14 who is forced out of the county, state or country is a victim of kidnapping. Whether based on coercion, seduction or monetary gain, a person who faces a kidnapping charge can be sent to prison anywhere from five years to life if convicted.

It is obviously a serious charge, which requires a highly qualified Santa Ana criminal defense attorney. With years of experience handling these complex cases, a lawyer will be able to sniff out when police have strong evidence and when they're working off "hunches." Especially in cases where children go missing, such as the Casey Anthony case, police may initially look at outside suspects, but often look internally very quickly.

Davila is a slightly different situation, though, as he was convicted of several charges going back to 2000. According to court documents, Davila was convicted of 36 counts of child abuse, three counts of false imprisonment, one count of child neglect, one count of child abuse, one count of attempted felony murder and three counts of kidnapping a child under 13.

According to testimony in the case, the boy was placed in a bathroom, tied at the hands and forced to lie in a bathtub for hours at a time. He was blindfolded and locked in the room and beaten when he got free, he said.

At issue was whether a parent could legally be charged with kidnapping in Florida and the Supreme Court said yes. Another case that has cropped into the national spotlight is the case of Baby Lisa, an 11-month-old baby who went missing Oct. 4 and hasn't been seen since.

For days, searchers looked for the child, The Kansas City Star reports, but found no traces. Police got tips that turned out to be useless leads. And recently, investigators obtained a search warrant for the house that allows them to look for evidence while banning the family from returning there.

They have now said the mother, who was home the night he baby disappeared, isn't cooperating. There were two older boys home as well and they gave statements initially, but now haven't been made available to police.

The situation is turning quickly as authorities likely are looking at the mother, who admitted to being drunk the night the girl was taken from her room. The husband returned home from a late-night shift to find his daughter missing at 4 a.m. that day. The mother said she saw her at 10:30 p.m. the night before.

Parent kidnapping charges tend to make big headlines, which also threatens the defendant's right to a fair trial. If police are going to make such strong accusations, they better have enough evidence to back it up. If not, an experienced Santa Ana criminal defense attorney will be looking for a not-guilty verdict.

If you are facing felony charges in Orange County, contact the Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera Jr. to discuss your options. With three decades of experience, Attorney LaBarbera has argued more than 200 criminal trials and appeals. Call (714) 541-9668 for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

State v. Green Highlights Self-Defense Expertise Needed in Orange County Murder Cases: October 13, 2011

Additional Resources:

Investigators spend almost 17 hours searching inside Lisa Irwin home, by Glenn E. Rice, The Kansas City Star