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CHILD ABUSE

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CHILD ABUSE, ENDANGERMENT, OR NEGLECT (NON-SEXUAL):

In California, there are several crimes which fall under the name, “Child Abuse.” The following is a reference chart, describing the two most common “Child Abuse” charges and their consequences. This chart is not legal advice and was designed merely to educate about some of the potential consequences of a Child Abuse conviction.

Penal Code section 273a(a) (Misdemeanor/Felony), “Willful Cruelty or Neglect with Threat of Great Bodily Injury or Death”

What is the definition of this crime?

Below is the lengthy text of Penal Code section 273a(a), broken into parts so you can more easily understand the definition of the crime:

It is unlawful for “any person who, under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death,

1) willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering,

or

2) having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits the person or health of that child to be injured, or willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered

Any act described in the statute is criminal. Obviously, because part of the law applies to people with custody of the children and part of the law doesn’t, anyone can be charged with child endangerment or neglect, independent of their relationship to the child.

What’s the worst that could happen?

273a(a) as a Felony – Up to 6 years state prison, 4 years of probation, one year of a child abuser’s treatment counseling program as defined in Penal Code section 271.3

273a(a) as a Misdemeanor – 1-year county jail maximum, 4 years of probation, one year of a child abuser’s treatment counseling program as defined in Penal Code section 271.3

Penal Code section 273a(b) (Misdemeanor)

Willful Cruelty or Neglect Not Likely to Result in Great Bodily Injury or Death”  

What is the definition of the crime?

Once again, the text of the statute is divided to show more easily what conduct it makes criminal.

It is unlawful for “Any person who, under circumstances or conditions other than those likely to produce great bodily harm or death,

1) willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering,

or

2) having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits the person or health of that child to be injured, or willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered

As you can, see the only difference between 273a(a) and 273a(b) is that for a conviction under (b), the child does not have to be in conditions likely to cause great bodily injury or death. Therefore, it is easier to be charged by a 273a(b) because the district attorney doesn’t have to show that the child’s life was endangered or that there was any risk of the child being seriously hurt.

The lower threshold for a conviction is why this charge is a misdemeanor rather than a felony, but it still carries many of the same consequences. It is also worrisome because a lot of how we treat our children depends on cultural values and understanding. If the prosecuting attorney does not understand your culture and your traditions, they may not be able to see that you were simply raising your child in the way that you were raised.

What’s the worst that could happen?

273a(b) – Misdemeanor conviction – 1-year county jail maximum, 4 years of summary probation, and one year of a child abuser’s treatment counseling program as defined in Penal Code section 271.3.

What should I do if I am charged with Child Abuse?

Because the consequences of a child abuse conviction will last years, it is imperative you speak with a lawyer, like those at Manshoory Law Group, APC, who can advise of you of the potential risks to your freedom, your finances, and your good name. Call for your free consultation (877) 977-7750.