Solicitors in Milton Keynes - Family Law, Motoring Law, Domestic Violence

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When is a Crime not a Crime?

The tragic case of the couple who took their sick child out of hospital because they were unhappy with his medical care had me reaching for my law books. A European arrest warrant saw them incarcerated in a Spanish jail, but what was the crime that they had allegedly committed? It is not against the law to discharge a child from hospital against medical advice, unless there is a court order which prevents this. Also as a matter of law it is not possible to abduct your own child if the other parent has expressly or impliedly consented to the removal. Clearly it couldn’t be said that either parent had assaulted the child or conspired to commit any unlawful act which related to him. And it couldn’t be said that they were being cruel to the boy. Although they are Jehovah Witnesses there was no suggestion that their decision was for religious reasons. I was therefore actually quite surprised when it was suggested that they had ‘neglected’ him. Wilful child neglect is a criminal offence and a very serious one, but it involves either deliberately or recklessly doing or not doing something which would harm the child. It would be very difficult if not impossible to argue that removing your sick son from one hospital to have him treated in another hospital satisfies the definition of neglect. In fact it might be argued that they were being diligent. I wasn’t surprised when the warrant was withdrawn.

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