New Texas Law Makes Unregulated Custody Transfer of Adopted Child Illegal

HB 834 created a new third degree felony codified in the Texas Penal Code.

As of September 1, 2017, the unregulated custody transfer of adopted children is a criminal offense. If you knowingly transfer, or facilitate or participate in a transfer, of an adopted child that takes place outside of the regulations created by the new law, HB 834, you may be facing a third degree felony charge. Other states have enacted similar restrictions to protect children from the potentially harmful effects of moving form one adoptive family to another without any legal oversight.

The unregulated transfer of a child from one adoptive family to another is referred to as “rehoming.” Texas shares the concerns of other states that rehoming exposes these children to potential abuse and loopholes in the country’s child welfare system. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) generated a report on this topic, released September 2015, titled, “Child Welfare: Steps Have Been taken to Address Unregulated Custody Transfers of Adopted Children.” The report states that sometimes adoptive families try to transfer a child to another family outside of the court and child welfare systems because they are suffering from a certain crisis and are finding it difficult to access any support services. The report goes on to state that adopted children, internationally adopted children in particular, may have complex needs requiring special care and counseling due to a history of trauma. When adoptive families find they are up against road blocks in trying to access things like mental health services for their families, they may try to transfer the child to another family.

If convicted of making an unregulated custody transfer of an adopted child, you face severe penalties. As a third degree felony, this crime carries a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years. If the state’s attorney provides compelling evidence that you committed the offense with the intent of human trafficking, you may be facing a second degree felony conviction.

The knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Scott M. Brown & Associates make it a point to be aware of changes in the law, such as when a new criminal offense is added to the Texas Penal Code. We know that our clients depend on us to mount the strongest, most zealous defense possible and that requires a thorough understanding of Texas criminal laws both new and old. At Scott M. Brown & Associates, we take your defense serious because we know what is at stake. Contact us today and we will begin the fight to free you of all criminal charges.

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