Christopher Maffei was booked into the San Mateo County jail on September 7, 2012. Maffei stands accused of kidnapping his two children and taking them on a three day boat ride along the Northern California coast.
The story starts with Mr. Maffei taking his children from their mother's home in South San Francisco and driving away in a rental car. He is alleged to have then stolen a yacht and boarded it with the two children. On September 4th, Mr. Maffei sailed under the Golden Gate and then along the Northern California coastline. After three days on the sea, the yacht was intercepted, boarded by authorities and Mr. Maffei was arrested. Both young children were recovered unharmed.
Christopher Maffei spoke to a Chronicle reporter from his jail cell and expressed regrets about stealing the boat but not about taking his children. "I knew I'd gone crazy by stealing the boat, but not about taking my kids," Maffei said. In court Maffei indicated that he was trying to protect his children from an abusive environment.
According to reports, when contacted, the children were well fed and healthy. According to Maffei, the kids had "a grand time." ""They were safe, they were warm."
Cases involving parental abductions are emotionally charged and very difficult for both, the prosecution and the defense. If you are faced with such charges contact a Bay Area criminal defense attorney today.
It is very interesting to note that in situations such as this, a person may be prosecuted for both, the crime of kidnapping and the crime of child abduction. Kidnapping is a crime against the child, while child abduction or stealing is a crime against the parents.
In order to prove kidnapping in this type of situation, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
1. The accused used just enough physical force to take and carry away the unresisting child.
2. The accused moved the child a substantial distance.
3. The accused moved the child with an illegal intent or for an illegal purpose; AND
4. The child was under 14 year of age at the time of the movement.
The question here most often is not whether the accused took the child but rather whether the accused had an illegal intent. It is a defense to kidnapping if the accused believed that he was protecting the child from imminent harm.
In order to prove an accused guilty of child abduction, the prosecution must prove that:
1. The accused maliciously took a child from the lawful custodian of the child;
2. The child was 18 years old;
3. When the child was taken, the accused did not have a right to custody of that child; AND
4. The accused intended to conceal the child from the lawful custodian.
There are several other provisions in the law having to do with when a person actually has and looses lawful custody rights. It is interesting to note that the child abduction statute can be violated by depriving a lawful custodian of the right to custody or visitation.
Several other criminal charges, including child abuse, may be charged in parental abduction situations.
If you or someone close is being investigated for or charged with parental kidnapping or child abduction, call our Bay Area offices today to schedule a consultation. Criminal consequences can be great. Get the best representation on your side from the very beginning. Often we are able to negotiate terms and mitigate consequences early in the process.