The Ontario AMBER Alert Program is a voluntary, co-operative plan between radio and television stations, the Ministry of Community and Correctional Services, Ministry of Transportation, Ontario law enforcement agencies and other partners. The mandate of this program is to prevent child abduction, raise awareness of child abduction in the community, locate the child through community effort and increase children’s safety. As Amber Alert has received a significant amount of attention, this article is written from a family lawyer’s perspective to help the readers understand the relationships between Amber Alert and Non-Removal Oder.
Non-removal order is granted by the family court to restrain a person from removing the children from Ontario. The order is sought either in a family law application or an urgent motion if your children are in imminent danger of being removed from Ontario by any person.
Before an AMBER Alert is activated, these guidelines must be met:
1.The law enforcement agency believes a child under 18 years of age has been abducted; and
2.The law enforcement agency believes the child is in danger; and
3.There is enough descriptive information about one or more of the following the child, the abductor, and/or the vehicle, which is sufficient to allow the law enforcement agency to believe that an immediate broadcast alert will help in locating the child.
To trigger Amber alert, the person who abducts the child does not have to be a parent. It could be anyone. Section 280 of the Criminal Code has made it a crime where a third party (non-parent, non-guardian or not a person who has lawful care or charge of the child) abducts an unmarried child under the age of sixteen. As long as there is sufficient information about the child, the abductor, and the vehicle to allow the public to identify and locate the child and/or the abductor, amber alert may be triggered.
A major difference between the non-removal order and the amber alert is that the non-removal order is a preventative investigative measure. The person who wishes to trigger amber alert does not need to go through the court. The person who disobeys the order may be held in contempt by the court. If the court finds a person in contempt of the court, it may order the person be imprisoned for any period and on any conditions that are just.
It is entirely possible that after a non-removal order has been ordered against a parent, that parent still attempts to abduct the child thus compels the other parent to activate amber alert. The Criminal Code has criminalized both “abduction” and “abduction in contravention of custody order”. Whether or not there is a custody order in relation to the person under 14 years of age, the person who being the parent, guardian, or person having the lawful care or charge of the person under 14 years of age, “takes, entices away, conceals, detains, receives or harbours” that person, with intent to deprive a parent or guardian, or any other person who has the lawful care or charge of that person, of the possession of that person, is guilty under the Criminal Code.
It is recommended that the parent or guardian applies for a non-removal order immediately if there is a risk of the children being removed from Ontario and not likely to return, instead of taking action after the abduction already took place. If you require urgent assistance with obtaining a non-removal order, please get in touch with our firm. Please contact MEHDI AU LLP if you have any further questions.
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