Child abuse is one of the harshest charges that can be leveled against someone, especially a parent. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of society, so many regulations and safeguards are used to protect them from harm. However, false accusations of abuse which can destroy families are made every day, and anyone facing such circumstances needs to contact a criminal defense attorney about their legal options. A couple in Riverside County were recently arrested and charged with torture and child endangerment after authorities discovered 13 children inside their home shackled and malnourished. This type of behavior, if true, is certainly unacceptable, but most individuals arrested for crimes related to harming a child are much less clear. The penalties for these offenses are extremely harsh, not to the mention the social stigma and loss of reputation. A discussion of common charges filed in cases of alleged child abuse, and how an experienced criminal defense attorney can attack the State’s case, will follow below.
Child Abuse Offenses Generally
The phrase child abuse refers to a large range of behavior that results in mental, physical or sexual harm to a child, or which is considered neglect or exploitation. Parents have broad authority to raise and discipline their child as they wish, but laws do exist that seek to protect children from acts the State views as producing serious harm. Further, some individuals are required by law to report suspected child abuse, including teachers, doctors and daycare workers. This can leave parents and other caretakers open to false allegations largely based on perceptions from third parties, who have limited information and access to the child’s home situation. This risk is one of the primary reasons a criminal defense attorney should be brought in as soon as possible once a report or investigation is launched.
Specific Examples of Common Charges
The criminal elements of child abuse generally involve:
● the intentional infliction of cruel and inhumane punishment and/or injury to a child, i.e., acted on purpose;
● the punishment or injury caused bodily harm; and
● these actions were not reasonable methods of disciplining a child.
In addition to the charge of child abuse, other offenses are frequently charged in conjunction with this crime, such as child endangerment, battery and failure to provide care (neglect). Child endangerment refers to situations in which a defendant is alleged to have placed the child in an environment where injury or harm was probable or likely. Thus, no actual physical injury is necessary for this crime. Battery, the willful use of force, is typically charged where there is some evidence that physical force was exerted, but the actions did not cause an injury or rise to the level of inhumane. Neglect or failure to provide care arises when a parent is accused of intentionally failing to provide basic necessities to a child (food, water, clothing, medical care, etc.) without a lawful excuse, such as not being able to afford these necessities. These offenses are wobblers, meaning they can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances, and are subject to harsh penalties, up to ten years in State prison, and should not be taken lightly.
Criminal defense attorneys have multiple options for attacking a child abuse charge, dictated by the facts of each case, that may be raised before or during the trial. One of the most common defenses used to combat these charges is that they are false. Conflict among family members or a high-conflict child custody matter can push people to make untrue accusations as a form of retaliation. Further, the child’s injury may be entirely separate and unconnected with any type of abuse. Children get injured as part of growing up, not necessarily from abuse. Additionally, a genuine accident that did not occur from reckless or aggressive behavior is another way to defend against child abuse charges.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Manshoory Law Group, APC are dedicated to providing you strong and effective legal representation in your criminal case. The Los Angeles law firm has years of experience handling a wide variety of criminal charges, and knows how to build a strong defense so you can achieve the best possible result. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call.Contact us for a free consultation.