The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Child Abduction Unit (CAU) has been in operation for 26 years to bring children home who have been abducted by a parent or family member. California prosecutors are empowered to use both civil and criminal laws in child abduction cases.
The Child Abduction Unit (CAU) enforces custody orders for individuals who are residents of Santa Clara County at the time their custodial rights were violated. The CAU is comprised of a specially trained clerk, paralegal, investigator and attorney.
The CAU's goal is the recovery of the minor child and the ultimate reunification of the child with the left-behind parent or guardian. Because the CAU may use civil and criminal laws to recover the child, the unit does not automatically file criminal charges against the abductor.
REPORTING A CHILD ABDUCTION
What Should You Do If Your Child Is Abducted?
- Notify the police. If your child is abducted, contact the police immediately. There is no 24-hour waiting period to report a missing child. If your child was taken by the other parent, even if there is no existing court order, you may report the child and parent as missing. Ask the police to take a missing person's report and to enter the abductor's and child's names into the NCIC (National Crime Information Computer) system.
- Get a custody order. If you do not have a custody order or have one but have not been following it, you must go to the Family Court. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be able to receive legal help through one of these sources:
- Santa Clara County Superior Court's Law Clinic - Located at 99 Notre Dame, San Jose, California and open from 8-4 Mondays through Thursdays, by appointment only. Plan on arriving up to an hour before opening in order to secure an appointment for that day as this is a free service. Call (408) 882-2900 for information.
- Santa Clara County Bar Association - Provides a referral service for lawyers and has a panel of attorneys who may work for reduced fees in some circumstances. Call (408) 971-6822 for information.
- Santa Clara County Self-Help Website - www.scselfservice.org.
- Judicial Council of California's Website - www.courts.ca.gov. Information on this site is also available in Spanish and the legal forms you may need to file in a family court action can be printed from this site.
Contact the Family Violence Division Child Abduction Unit of the District Attorney's Office at (408) 792-2921. Please contact the CAU at (408) 792-2921 during normal business hours or leave a message at any time. The CAU is not a 24-hour agency, but will make every effort to return your call by the next business day. You must also make a missing person's report with the agency where you live.
You will need to file for custody if you do not already have a court order that grants you custody rights. The CAU may require you to fill out a Child Abduction Questionnaire. If you require assistance in completing this form, we can help you. Once the form is submitted to our office, we will assign an investigator to your case. This investigator will contact you.
Once we have opened a case, we will make every effort to locate and recover your child. A first step may be for our investigator to locate and serve the other parent with your court hearing papers. Our legal staff may obtain a court order that allows the investigator to remove the child from the care of the other person. The investigator may travel to another county in our state, or to another state or country, depending on the circumstances.
- Register Your Case. Please consider registering your case with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (1-800-THE-LOST), www.missingkids.com This agency helps parents of missing children and provide information and additional support services to left-behind family members. They are also excellent resources for abduction prevention information.
REPORTING A VIOLATION OF COURT-ORDERED VISITATION
Due to the lack of state funding, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office no longer has staff available to investigate violations of court ordered visitation.
For More Information Please Contact:
Family Violence Division - Child Abduction Unit
70 West Hedding Street, West Wing
San Jose, CA 95110
Fax: (408) 297-9910
Phone: (408) 792-2551