Every crime in California is defined by a specific code section. Our attorneys explain the law, penalties and best defense strategies for every major crime in California.
The law in most states allows a prosecutor to charge the crime of child abuse as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances.
Prosecutors are typically more prone to file felony charges when:
If you do get charged with child abuse, you can contest it with a legal defense. A few common defenses include you showing that:
Most often, yes. States are generally more likely to charge child abuse as a felony when the abuse results in physical injury to the child.
Consider California law as an example. The law states that you would face misdemeanor child abuse charges if
By contrast, California law says that a person would face felony child abuse charges if he or she
“inflicts upon a child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or an injury resulting in a traumatic condition“.2
A traumatic physical condition is
So California draws the line at injury – it becomes a felony if the abuser inflicts injury on the child, even a minor injury.
Most often, a state’s child abuse laws say yes. Prosecutors are more likely to file felony charges (and more serious felony charges) in those child abuse cases that involve:
For example, Florida law treats aggravated child abuse as a felony of the first degree. “Aggravated child abuse” includes those instances when an abuser
Further, under North Carolina law, you will face felony child abuse charges for committing, or allowing the commission of, any sexual act upon a child.5
The criminal laws of most states say this is also a significant factor. Repeat offenders with past child abuse convictions will generally see felony criminal charges in child abuse cases.
Illinois law, for example, lists a few factors that will cause a prosecutor to file a felony charge in a child abuse case. One is if the abuser had a prior conviction for child abuse. In these cases, child abuse is filed as a Class 4 felony.6
The specific penalties for a child abuse conviction will likely depend on state law and the facts of the case.
Colorado law, for example, sets forth the following rules:
Yes. Criminal defense attorneys draw upon several legal strategies to help defendants contest child abuse charges.
A few common defenses include you showing that:
As to parental rights, note that the parent of a child has a right to discipline his/her child provided that
As to an accident, states usually say “accidental” means that someone did not abuse a child on purpose or with criminal negligence.
Further, note that while you can raise a legal defense in these cases, consultation with a criminal defense lawyer will help you determine the best defense.
Most criminal defense attorneys and law firms offer free consultations. This means you can get your legal questions answered at no charge.
Further, your conversations with criminal lawyers are protected by the attorney-client relationship. This means that a lawyer cannot disclose your confidences without your consent.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
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