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NY Penal Law § 135.55: Substitution of Children

June 28, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

New York has several laws in its criminal code that are established to protect children including several laws covering the kidnapping of children. One of these laws was created to punish people who “substitute” children.  You could be prosecuted for substitution of children under New York Penal Law § 135.55, in the following scenarios:


  1. The child was entrusted to your care,
  2. You had intentions of deceiving the parent, guardian or lawful custodian of that child, and
  3. You returned to the parent, guardian or lawful custodian of a child other than their own.


For Example

Christine was responsible for picking several children up from their homes to drive them to summer day camp, and then to return them to their homes at the end of each day. She inadvertently dropped one of the children off at the wrong residence and drove away. Christine could not be charged with substitution of children, because she did not intend to deceive the child’s parents.


Offenses that are Related

Custodial interference in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 135.45

Custodial interference in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 135.50


Possible Defenses

In order for you to be convicted of the crime of substitution of children, you must have had the invention of to deceive the child’s parents, guardian, or lawful custodian. If the substitution happened by accident, then you have a solid defense against a charge of substitution of children charge.



Due to the fact that the crime of substitution of children is categorized as a class E felony, the maximum possible prison sentence you could face is 4 years. In particular, if you have no prior convictions, the judge may decide to sentence you to a probation term of 5 years in lieu of sending you to prison to do time. The judge will additionally have the option to sentence you to probation instead of sentencing you to any time behind bars. On top of that, you may be ordered to pay a monetary fine.



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