The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 makes the willful nonpayment of past due child support for a child living in another state a federal crime. This law was amended by the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998, which made it a felony to cross state lines with the intention of avoiding child support payments and provided strict guidelines for the penalties for this offense. These provisions are found in federal law at 18 U.S.C. 228.
The federal criminal prosecution remedy is available only through the Child Enforcement Services program. This remedy can be sought when all other available enforcement remedies are exhausted and well-documented. The United States Attorney's Office is responsible for the criminal prosecution of the NCP.
Project Save Our Children (PSOC) is the vehicle used by OCSE to manage the referral process for cases being submitted for federal criminal prosecution. PSOC's roles are as follows:
Under federal law at 18 U.S.C. Section 228, failure to pay child support can be prosecuted as a federal offense if the parent and child reside in different states and either:
Eligibility for referral for federal criminal prosecution also requires that:
Since all PSOC referrals must be open CSS cases, requests for referral from private attorneys or individuals can be made to local CSS. If no open CSS case exists, an application for the full range of services must be completed and the application fee paid. CSS caseworkers then must exhaust all other available enforcement remedies before eligibility federal criminal prosecution can be evaluated. If the case meets all criteria, a PSOC referral can be made. If not the custodial parent can elect to continue CSS services or close the case.
Careful screening is necessary when selecting cases to submit for federal criminal prosecution. CSS should submit only cases for which all available state remedies have been exhausted, yet reason exists to believe that the parent is able to comply with the terms of a support obligation, but is failing to do so. When evaluating a case, CSS should consider the following factors:
A conviction of non-support is punishable by:
First offense - Fine OR imprisonment for not more than six (6) months OR both;
Subsequent offense - Fine OR imprisonment for not more than two (2) years OR both.
Conviction of willful failure to support also requires the court to order restitution in the total amount of unpaid support. The federal court distributes restitution (arrearage) payments to N.C. Centralized Collections (NCCSCC).
In addition to these punishments, the NCP can be placed on probation. The specific terms of probation include:
Federal probation officers periodically monitor the payments to determine whether probation should be revoked and the NCP should be imprisoned. Local CSS caseworkers can release payment information to federal probation officers in an effort to enforce the child support order.
CSS is responsible for all necessary enforcement activities for a case that is referred for federal criminal prosecution until the U.S. Attorney accepts that case for prosecution.
Once the U.S. Attorney accepts a case:
After federal criminal charges are filed, CSS enforcement activities should be stopped until further notice from the federal court.
The CSS agency remains responsible for the collection and distribution of current support.
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.