“Can Parental Rights Be Terminated For Crimes Committed?”

Yes, parental rights can be terminated in California for commission of a crime, if it is a felony and impacts the ability to parent. The code section that controls this process is California Family Code Section 7825, which reads as follows:

7825. (a) A proceeding under this part may be brought where both of
the following requirements are satisfied:
(1) The child is one whose parent or parents are convicted of a
felony.
(2) The facts of the crime of which the parent or parents were
convicted are of such a nature so as to prove the unfitness of the
parent or parents to have the future custody and control of the
child. In making a determination pursuant to this section, the court
may consider the parent’s criminal record prior to the felony
conviction to the extent that the criminal record demonstrates a
pattern of behavior substantially related to the welfare of the child
or the parent’s ability to exercise custody and control regarding
his or her child.

The key here is proving that the felony has affected the ability to parent. Factors to look for are (1) crimes of violence, (2) crimes against the other parent or against a child, (3) crimes committed in front of the children, (4) crimes that are linked to behavior that have made the child fearful of the parent.

In cases of termination of parental rights, there is always a court services investigation and report regarding the request, and an attorney (called minor’s counsel) who performs an investigation and reports findings to the judge. These reports will deal with the details of the crime, and the effect on the minor or minors.

Although the results will always vary widely depending on the totality of the circumstances, if you have a white collar or financial crime felony (embezzlement, theft, various kinds of fraud) termination will not be very likely, while violent crimes, particularly child abuse, sexual abuse, or domestic violence, are much more likely to result in a termination.
The total facts of a case should be discussed before a filing of this kind with an experienced attorney who can tell you what the chances are of success based on all the facts of the case as they are known at the time.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.
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