There are a number of actions you can take to get your child back when the other parent (or other relative) has taken your child without your consent and without a valid court order.
The California Family Code Section 3131 states: “If a custody or visitation order has been entered by a court of competent jurisdiction and the child is taken or detained by another person in violation of the order, the district attorney shall take all actions necessary to locate and return the child and the person who violated the order and to assist in the enforcement of the custody or visitation order or other order of the court by use of an appropriate civil or criminal proceeding.”
The California Penal Code Section 278.5 provides that: "(a) Every person who takes, entices away, keeps, withholds,or conceals a child and maliciously deprives a lawful custodian of aright to custody, or a person of a right to visitation, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16months, or two or three years, a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both that fine and imprisonment."
There are exceptions to the rules which would allow you to detain the child if you have a good faith and reasonable belief that the child would be in danger.
The California Penal Code Section 278.7 provides: "(a) Section 278.5 does not apply to a person with a right to custody of a child who, with a good faith and reasonable belief that the child, if left with the other person, will suffer immediate bodily injury or emotional harm, takes, entices away, keeps, withholds, or conceals that child. (b) Section 278.5 does not apply to a person with a right to custody of a child who has been a victim of domestic violence who, with a good faith and reasonable belief that the child, if left with the other person, will suffer immediate bodily injury or emotional harm, takes, entices away, keeps, withholds, or conceals that child. "Emotional harm" includes having a parent who has committed domestic violence against the parent who is taking, enticing away, keeping, withholding, or concealing the child."
However: There are actions you must take should you choose to take the child for their own protection and for the exceptions to apply.
The California Penal Code provides:
"(1) Within a reasonable time from the taking, enticing away, keeping, withholding, or concealing, make a report to the office of the district attorney of the county where the child resided before the action. The report shall include the name of the person, the current address and telephone number of the child and the person, and the reasons the child was taken, enticed away, kept, withheld, or concealed.
(2) Within a reasonable time from the taking, enticing away, keeping, withholding, or concealing, commence a custody proceeding in a court of competent jurisdiction consistent with the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (Section 1738A, Title 28, United States Code) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act Part 3 (commencing with Section 3400) of Division 8 of the Family Code).
(3) Inform the district attorney's office of any change of address or telephone number of the person and the child. (d) For the purposes of this article, a reasonable time within which to make a report to the district attorney's office is at least 10 days and a reasonable time to commence a custody proceeding is at least 30 days. This section shall not preclude a person from making a report to the district attorney's office or commencing a custody proceeding earlier than those specified times. (e) The address and telephone number of the person and the child provided pursuant to this section shall remain confidential unless released pursuant to state law or by a court order that contains appropriate safeguards to ensure the safety of the person and the child."
****** If you are concerned for the safety of your child you should immediately consult with an attorney!
This is a good question that is difficult to answer. Some police departments do enforce custody orders and others simply will not. If you plan on enforcing a visitation order you should make sure that you arm yourself with a copy of the most recent Court Order and the citation to the law.