DA Seal
San Joaquin County
District Attorney's Office

Vertical Prosecution
Child Abduction

District Attorney Investigations: (209) 468-3620

Child abduction is a parent's worst nightmare. Abductors are not always strangers, the abductor can also be a parent or family member. This section provides answers to questions about child abduction and resources where you can obtain help. If you are the parent or guardian of a missing child, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Help is available, so never give up.

  • Yes. In fact, the majority of abductions are committed by a mother, father, grandparent, or other relative. If you think that a family member who takes his/her child is not breaking the law, you are wrong. CHILD ABDUCTION, EVEN BY A FAMILY MEMBER, IS A FELONY punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

  • Anyone who takes, entices away, keeps, withholds, or conceals any child from a lawful custodian or a person with a right to visitation has broken the law. This crime includes one parent's willful denial of another parent's right to visit or take custody of the child.


  • A child may be taken or detained in violation of a custody or visitation order if there is a good faith and reasonable belief that the child(ren), if left with another person, will suffer immediate bodily injury or emotional harm. However, if you do take your child(ren) under this exception, you MUST call the District Attorney's Office Child Abduction Unit at (209) 468-3620 and follow the instructions you are given. Be aware, that you must completely follow these instructions or the exception will not apply and you could face criminal charges.


  • File a police report, bringing your custody/visitation order or a certified copy with you. If there is no court order, contact a lawyer or legal clinic right away for help in getting a custody order from the court. Ask the law enforcement officer to enter your child in the NCIC, the national crime information computer system.

    Call the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Child Abduction Section at (209) 468-3620. For assistance in locating your child, call a children's organization such as " The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children" at (800) 843-5678 or " The Polly Klaas Foundation" at 800-587-4357

  • Did you know that the District Attorney can help you find your child? The District Attorney's investigators have the responsibility of locating and recovering children taken or held in violation of a custody or visitation order. If you have a right, pursuant to a valid court order, to custody or visitation of a child and another person denies you that right, the District Attorney can help you locate and return that child.

    It doesn't matter if the child is taken to another county or another state, or even another country, the District Attorney's Office will take measures to ensure the return of your child.

    For your convenience, you can also download the Child Abduction Task Force Questionnaire then call the office to schedule an appointment once you have the form filled out and the required documentation.

  • Tips on Keeping Your Kids SafeKeep Your Children Safe


    1. Avoid clothing and toys with your child's name visibly on it. A child is less likely to fear someone that knows their name.
    2. Never leave a child alone in a public place, stroller, or car. Not even for a minute.
    3. Always accompany young children to the bathroom in a public place and advise them never to play in or around the area.
    4. Keep an up-to-date color photograph of your child, a medical and dental history and have your child fingerprinted.


  • 7 Safety Tips for Kids

    1. Stay SafeBefore I go anywhere, I always check first with my parents or the person in charge. I tell them where I am going, how I will get there, who will be going with me, and when I'll be back.
    2. I check first for permission from my parents before getting into a car or leaving with anyone, even someone I know. I check first before changing plans or accepting money, gifts, or drugs without my parents' knowledge.
    3. It is safer for me to be with other people when going places or playing outside. I always use the buddy system.
    4. I say NO if someone tries to touch me in ways that make me feel frightened, uncomfortable or confused. Then I go and tell a grown-up I trust what happened.
    5. I know it is not my fault if someone touches me in a way that is not O.K. I don't have to keep secrets about those touches.
    6. I trust my feelings and talk to grown-ups about problems that are too big for me to handle on my own. A lot of people care about me and will listen and believe me. I am not alone.
    7. It is never too late to ask for help. I can keep asking until I get the help I need.