Texas Penal Code 25.081 – Unregulated Custody Transfer of Adopted Child

Attorney Trey Porter
Trey Porter

Texas Penal Code 25.081 – Unregulated Custody Transfer of Adopted Child

WHAT IS UNREGULATED CUSTODY TRANSFER OF ADOPTED CHILD IN TEXAS?

The unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child is the unauthorized rehoming of an adopted child. Courts approve adoptions after determining that the adoptive family will care for the child and his or her best interests. Any further placement of the child must also be approved through the legal system.

Texas Penal Code 25.081 – Unregulated Custody Transfer of Adopted Child

WHAT IS THE UNREGULATED CUSTODY TRANSFER OF ADOPTED CHILD LAW IN TEXAS?

Tex. Penal Code § 25.081. UNREGULATED CUSTODY TRANSFER OF ADOPTED CHILD.

(b) Except as otherwise provided by this section, a person commits an offense if the person knowingly:

(1) conducts an unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child; or

(2) facilitates or participates in the unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child, including by transferring, recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, soliciting, or obtaining an adopted child for that purpose.

(c) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree, except that the offense is a felony of the second degree if the actor commits the offense with intent to commit an offense under Section 20A.02, 43.021, 43.05, 43.25, 43.251, or 43.26.

(d) This section does not apply to:

(1) the placement of an adopted child with a licensed child-placing agency, the Department of Family and Protective Services, or an adult relative, stepparent, or other adult with a significant and long-standing relationship to the child;

(2) the placement of an adopted child by a licensed child-placing agency or the Department of Family and Protective Services;

(3) the temporary placement of an adopted child by the child’s parent, managing conservator, or guardian for a designated short-term period with a specified intent and period for return of the child due to temporary circumstances, including:

(A) a vacation;

(B) a school-sponsored function or activity; or

(C) the incarceration, military service, medical treatment, or incapacity of the parent, managing conservator, or guardian;

(4) the placement of an adopted child in another state in accordance with the requirements of Subchapter B, Chapter 162, Family Code (“Interstate Compact on Placement of Children”); or

(5) the voluntary delivery of an adopted child under Subchapter D, Chapter 262, Family Code (“Emergency Possession of Certain Abandoned Children”).

WHAT IS THE PENALTY CLASS FOR UNREGULATED CUSTODY TRANSFER OF ADOPTED CHILD IN TEXAS?

Unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child with the intent to commit human trafficking, solicitation of prostitution, compelling prostitution, sexual performance by a child, employment harmful to children, or possession or promotion of child pornography is a second degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison. The sale or purchase of a child for any other purpose is a third degree felony, punishable by two to ten years in prison.

WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT RANGE FOR UNREGULATED CUSTODY TRANSFER OF ADOPTED CHILD IN TEXAS?

The punishment range for the unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child charged as a second degree felony is two to 20 years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine. Unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child charged as a third degree felony carries a possible two to ten years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine.

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR UNREGULATED CUSTODY TRANSFER OF ADOPTED CHILD IN TEXAS?

As an alternative to prison, a person charged with unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child may be placed on probation after a conviction, or deferred adjudication to avoid a conviction, for up to ten years.

WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO UNREGULATED CUSTODY TRANSFER OF ADOPTED CHILD IN TEXAS?

It is possible to raise the justification defenses for unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child, but success is unlikely. The statute specifically excepts certain situations that do not constitute criminal activity, such as a temporary stay outside the home for vacation, a school function, military service, medical treatment, or due to a parent or guardian’s incapacity.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR UNREGULATED CUSTODY TRANSFER OF ADOPTED CHILD IN TEXAS?

The statute of limitations for an unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child, whether charged as a third degree or second degree felony, is three years.

UNREGULATED CUSTODY TRANSFER OF ADOPTED CHILD IN TEXAS

This law was enacted in 2017 to prevent abuse of an adopted child. The courts approving adoptions have taken the child’s best interest into consideration, and have an interest in the continuing well-being of the child. Any transfer of permanent physical custody of an adopted child must, therefore, be approved by a court.

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Attorney Trey Porter

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Trey Porter is one of the highest-rated criminal defense attorneys in Texas. Nationally recognized, Mr. Porter relentlessly fights to protect and assert his clients’ constitutional rights in and out of courtrooms across the state.

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