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NY Penal Law § 135.55: Substitution of children

New York has several laws that are designed to protect children including several laws related to kidnapping children. One such law was created to punish people who "substitute" children. Under New York Penal Law § 135.55, you could be prosecuted for substitution of children under the following circumstances:

  1. A child was entrusted to you,
  2. You had the intent to deceive the parent, guardian or lawful custodian of that child, and
  3. You returned to the parent, guardian or lawful custodian a different child.

Charlotte was responsible for picking up several children from their homes to day camp and then to return them to their homes after day camp. She inadvertently dropped one child off at the wrong house and drove away. Charlotte could not be prosecuted for substitution of children as she did not intend to deceive the child's parents.

Related Offenses
  1. Custodial interference in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 135.50
  2. Custodial interference in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 135.45

In order for you to be convicted of substitution of children, you must have had the intent to deceive the child's parents, guardian, or lawful custodian. If the substitution occurred by accident, then you have a defense to a charge of substitution of children charge.


Because the crime of substitution of children is a class E felony the maximum possible prison sentence is 4 years. Particularly if you have no prior convictions, the judge may choose to sentence you to a probation term of 5 years instead of sending you to prison. The judge will also have the option to sentence you to probation instead of sentencing you to prison. In addition, you may be ordered to pay a fine.

New York Penal Law § 135.55: Substitution of children

A person is guilty of substitution of children when, having been temporarily entrusted with a child less than one year old and intending to deceive a parent, guardian or other lawful custodian of such child, he substitutes, produces or returns to such parent, guardian or custodian a child other than the one entrusted.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have been charged with the crime of substitution of children you could end up in prison for several years. However, just because you were charged with this crime does not mean you will be convicted. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with kidnapping, assault, stalking, and other serious crimes. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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