Civil Liberties

Hakken Couple Could Face Life Sentences for Taking Back Their Children


Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office

Joshua and Sharyn Hakken, the Florida couple who "kidnapped" their own children after a Louisiana judge terminated their parental rights following a 2012 marijuana arrest, could be facing life in prison. The Tampa Bay Times

Because weapons were involved, the Hakkens could be facing multiple charges carrying lifelong sentences. Kidnapping for the purpose of committing a felony and burglary with battery are both felonies punishable by life in prison, Tampa lawyer Rick Terrana said.

"They are literally legal strangers to the children, therefore it is straight-up kidnapping," Marchese said. "They will have a very difficult time in the criminal arena. You'll never be able to tell a biological parent, 'You are no longer the parent.' They don't understand that."

That Times story came out lo April 10. A day later, the paper reported that 

Prosecutors also added one new charge: child abuse.

The couple inflicted "mental injury" on the children, according to court records. If convicted, they face up to life in prison.

Child abuse is an odd, maybe even vicious, charge to levy, considering that Chase and Cole believe they were on vacation. The Times again

The boys think they took a vacation to Cuba.

They have no idea that, according to deputies, they were kidnapped by their parents.

On Thursday, a few hours after their parents made their first appearance before a Hillsborough County judge, Cole and Chase Hakken, ages 4 and 2, stood before a crush of media on their grandparents' front lawn. The boys flashed broad grins and held hands.

The grandparents simply told the boys Thursday that people wanted to take pictures of them because of their boat trip and plane ride.

Bail was denied for both Joshua and Sharyn, which means they'll be jailed for the duration of their legal troubles, and probably for long after. Their next hearing is on May 30, when we might see some evidence that this tragedy had a point.

As of now, the only arguments I've seen that the Hakkens were a danger to their kids is that they are a) marijuana users b) gun owners and c) willing to use force to get their kids back. Oh, and they distrusted the government. 

Read more about the Hakkens here