Child abuse, in the physical sense, refers to causing physical harm to a child under the age of 18 years old. This type of child abuse is covered under the California Penal Code 273d PC. While the physical harm of a child falls under its own penal code, it is also covered by California's child endangerment laws. This covers physical abuse, as well as, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. While each of these issues are important to discuss, this article will focus on physical child abuse.
Child abuse, in the physical sense, can cover everything from slapping a child hard enough to leave marks, beating a child with a belt or a switch, or engaging in a physical confrontation with a teenager, hard enough to leave bruising and marks.
In the state of California, child abuse is considered a domestic violence crime. Because of this, child abuse carries harsh penalties. Unlike lesser, less violent crimes, child abuse cases are often looked upon as cases in which prosecutors “get tough” with the defendant.
A child abuse conviction, in particular, can be devastating to your family life, your career, and your freedom. While many child abuse cases come with merit, many others occur due to unfair or false allegations against a parent. There are also cases in which a single moment of weakness have led to serious and significant charges being brought up against a defendant.
What are the Penalties for Child Abuse?
Child abuse penalties in the state of California vary depending on the specifics of your case, as well as your prior record. Child abuse may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, again, depending on the specifics of your case. Penal Code 273d PC cases are considered “wobblers” because they can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, similar in nature to drunk driving arrests.
A child abuse case that is being heard as a misdemeanor has a maximum sentence of one year in jail. This classification is generally reserved for low level offenders, with clean records and no prior child abuse cases. Felony child abuse, however, carries a sentence of between two years and six years or more. The jail time assigned to the case depends on the specifics of the case, as well as the prior record of a defendant. A judge may choose a greater jail sentence for repeat child abuse offenders.
What are Potential Defenses?
While facing a child abuse charge can be extremely stressful, there are some defenses that can be used to reduce or dismiss the charges entirely. When faced with such a charge, it is best to meet with a qualified California defense attorney to discuss your options. A successful defense may include;
- Information that proves the allegations false
- Information that proves the child's injuries were caused by an activity or incident that was not abuse.
- You were acting within your rights, as a parent or guardian, to discipline your child
- You did not intend to cause bodily harm to the child.
Have You Been Accused of Child Abuse in California?
If you've been accused of child abuse in California you are likely dealing with a range of different emotions. Fear, depression, anxiety and anger. In many cases, reports are submitted to Child Protect Services prior to, or in conjunction with criminal charges being filed. These allegations may come from a neighbor, a teacher, an ex-spouse or a doctor. You'll need to work through the judicial system, both in family court and criminal court to successfully deal with a case. It is imperative for those accused of child abuse to meet with a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the specifics of the case. Doing so can help speed up the judicial process and ensure a successful court appearance.
Find a Child Abuse Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles
Once you've been accused of child abuse, you'll want to begin your defense as quickly and swiftly as possible. At the law offices of Jeff Voll, we take great pride in dealing with such cases in a quick and efficient manner. Not only does this reduce stress on the defendant but it reduces the emotional toll placed on the child if he or she has been removed from the home.
Understanding and compassionate, Jeff Voll and his staff, make the well being of their clients a top priority. They know, all to well, the embarrassment and humiliation that clients often feel when faced with child abuse allegations, and work hard to ensure anonymity and a swift judicial process.
If you've been accused of child abuse and you are facing criminal charges for the incident, don't hesitate to call the law offices of Jeff Voll at 323-467-6400.