Bill Description: House Bill 599 would effectively suspend the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" in an attempt to deter suspected child abductors.
Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?
The foundational principle of western justice is "innocent until proven guilty." Yet House Bill 599 proposes a slew of punitive and invasive measures to be taken against someone who has committed no crime, merely based on the suspicion that he might commit a crime in the future.
House Bill 599 would create Chapter 19, Title 32, Idaho Code, known as the "Idaho Child Abduction Prevention Act."
The notion that government should be in the business of attempting to prevent future crimes should concern anyone who is even slightly familiar with government's cumulative record of inaccuracy and failure.
The new chapter says, "A court on its own motion may order abduction prevention measures in a child-custody proceeding if the court finds a credible risk of abduction of the child."
The new chapter contains a definitions section, too. But it does not define either "credible" or "risk" in the list. These subjective notions are left up to the supposed wisdom of the courts.
A later section does include "factors to determine risk of abduction." They include the following: a judgment that a person "lacks strong familial, financial, emotional, or cultural ties to the state or the United States"; the person resigned from a job or applied for a passport. Ending a lease, selling a home, and closing a bank account are also listed as red flags of a potential child abductor. The entire list is nearly two pages long, but it ends with a catch-all provision: someone who has "engaged in any other conduct the court considers relevant to the risk of abduction."
If the court decides that a parent or guardian (or someone else with custody or visitation rights) presents a risk of abducting their child, it can enter an "abduction prevention order," which imposes any number of restrictions. Among these are travel restrictions, which can include a demand for any travel itinerary and for copies of all travel documents.
The court may ban travel altogether, and even prevent "approaching the child at any location other than a site designated for supervised visitation."
As if travel restrictions and supervised visitation were not intrusive enough, the court may order "the respondent to post a bond or provide other security in an amount sufficient to serve as a financial deterrent to abduction."
The court may also "require the respondent to obtain education on the potentially harmful effects to the child from abduction."
The court may also escalate matters and "issue a warrant to take physical custody of the child" and "direct law enforcement officers to take physical custody of the child immediately."
The chapter goes on to say, "If required by exigent circumstances, the court may authorize law enforcement officers to make a forcible entry at any hour."
(The irony of the state forcibly abducting a child to prevent a parent from possibly abducting the child should be obvious here.)
These abduction prevention orders can remain in effect indefinitely, up until the child becomes a legal adult at age 18.
Keep in mind, all of this can happen without any charges ever being filed, any convictions ever being obtained, or any jury ever hearing the allegations used as the pretext for issuing an abduction prevention order.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?
House Bill 599 goes beyond creating penalties for victimless crimes. It creates penalties for theoretical crimes that haven't happened anywhere except in some judge's imagination.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
Parental rights are among our most foundational and sacrosanct, yet House Bill 599 allows these rights to be violated in the most invasive ways imaginable based on nothing more than wild conjecture. Quitting a job or getting a passport should not be used as a pretext to deny a parent custody of or visitation with his or her child.