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Name: People v. Steele
Case #: C071857
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/07/2014
Summary

There was sufficient evidence to support defendant’s conviction of kidnapping a minor for prostitution (Pen. Code, § 267) even though the minor was temporarily separated from her mother as a result of family dynamics. Steele was convicted of violating section 267, which prohibits taking a minor away from his or her parent, without the consent of the parent, for the purpose of prostitution. On appeal, Steele argued that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction because the “taking of a minor, who comes and goes as she pleases, from the company of her boyfriend,” does not fall within the provisions of section 267. Held: Affirmed. Parental consent to “wander abroad” does not affect the question of whether a violation of section 267 occurred; there is a distinction between consent to the child wandering and consent to her being taken for prostitution. Here, the facts showed that the victim remained in her mother’s legal custody and the jury did not make a contrary finding. According to the evidence, on several occasions, the 17-year-old victim left home without stating where she was going. The victim testified that she does not run away and always returns home. Although the victim had difficulties with her mother and was asked to leave the family home, she remained in contact with her mother and visited her in the days preceding the alleged kidnapping and prostitution incident. The mother also filed a missing persons report shortly before the present offenses. Following the incident, mother located victim and took her home. These facts illustrate that the mother and victim enjoyed a substantive parent-child relationship, such that the mother sought to protect the victim. There is nothing in section 267 to suggest it does not apply whenever there is a temporary separation due to family dynamics.