An Orange County woman was recently arrested and charged with the attempted kidnapping of a child under 14 and attempting to take a child from a parent – both felonies.
According to police, the suspect, S. Orozco Magana, knocked on the door of a new mother’s home posing as a social worker and told the woman that she was there to take her newborn child. When asked by the mother why she was there to take the baby, Magana replied that a doctor had “probably reported child abuse.” Upon being asked for credentials, Magana refused to provide them. Magana then threatened to call the Sheriff’s Department if the mother continued to refuse to hand over the 1-week-old child.
The mother continued to refuse to hand over the child, even after being threatened with police action, and her sister filmed Magana as she left the residence. One day later, after seeing the footage on television, Magana turned herself in to authorities. After being arrested and charged with the two felonies, Magana was released on $100,000 bond.
Simple kidnapping is covered under California Penal Code 207 PC and is described as moving a person a substantial distance, without that person’s consent, by using force or fear to do so. However, since Magana posed as a social worker in an attempt to trick the mother into handing over her baby, her crime could actually be considered aggravated kidnapping, which has a similar description to simple kidnapping, but with added criteria including fraud.
The penalties for simple kidnapping include 3 to 8 years in California state prison, and a maximum fine of $10,000. For aggravated kidnapping, the potential penalties include 5 to 11 years in California state prison if the victim is under 14 years of age. However, since the kidnapping didn’t actually occur, Magana’s charge and subsequent penalties will be altered as per California Penal Codes 21a and 664 PC – California’s “attempted crimes” law.
To be charged with an attempted crime in California, a person must do two things: they must intend to commit a certain crime and then perform a direct, but ineffective, act toward committing that crime. It’s possible to be convicted of attempting a crime even if an individual changes their mind part of the way through and abandons efforts to complete the crime’s commission.
Generally, when someone is convicted of an attempted crime, their penalty is reduced to half that of the original crime. So, since the penalty for aggravated kidnapping includes 5 to 11 years in California state prison, Magana’s penalty, if convicted, could be 2.5 to 5.5 years. When someone is convicted of an attempted crime that has a sentence of life in prison, they are typically sentenced to 5, 9, or 11 years. The one exception to this rule is attempted murder, which can still carry a sentence of life in prison.
Magana’s second charge falls under California Penal Code 278 PC and is described as attempting to take a minor from a legal guardian without the legal right to do so. 278 PC is a “wobbler” which can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the defendant’s prior criminal history. If charged as a misdemeanor, the possible penalties include up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. For felony charges, the penalties include up to 4 years in California state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.