Any allegation related to child abuse is a sensitive and critical subject that potentially has harsh legal consequences. The law allows parents or guardians a certain level of physical force to punish their children. However, to an extreme degree, this can be classified as domestic violence. Such an act, if realized by the authorities, may come in hand with hefty penalties and charges that are impossible to reverse. In most episodes, whenever such claims are brought before the jury, there is a high likelihood that they will favor the child.

According to the CA Penal Code Section 273d, inflicting physical punishment on a youngster, more frequently referred to as child abuse, is a felonious offense that may be incriminated as either a misdemeanor or felony. This means many years in state prison and worse enough registration as a child offender for life. If you've been accused or charged with child abuse, whether physical, sexual, or emotional, you'll need on your side The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm. We defend your rights and protect you from wrongful convictions. 

What is Child Abuse?

Many critics tend to misunderstand child abuse from permissible punishment. The two may sound the same. However, the law distinguishes the two. Lawful punishment may involve physical force or in simple terms, discipline measures to punish the youngster. This punishment aims to correct the child from a wrongful act done. Therefore if a parent spanks his/her child, that is not well-thought-out as child abuse according to the law. On the other hand, child abuse involves physical force that may lead to torture or harm to the child either physically or psychologically.

What is the CA Penal Code?

CA Penal Code is the law that fights against child abuse and maltreatment. CA Penal Code 273d, also referred to as corporal injury on a youngster, redefines child abuse as taking action of physically harming or striking brutal physical punishment on a youngster not considered reasonable to discipline. It is also important to note that aside from the CA Penal Code 273d, there is another section, CA Penal Code 270 PC, that in some way resembles the law. Penal Code 270 is a criminal law in California that touches on child neglection.

Thus child abuse may be in the form of:

  • Slapping the child with a force that may leave physical marks on their body
  • The punishment caused psychological trauma to the child or any physical condition suffered
  • Striking a child with a belt
  • Deliberately impose any violent and unfair punishment that causes harm to a child

Therefore, for one to be convicted or accused of having violated CA Criminal Code 273d, he/she must be investigated by the police department for any evidence of the action. Examples of physical force on the child may include signs of choking on the child's body, kicking, hitting, and slapping of the child, to mention a few. As law practitioners term it, cruel and inhuman punishment is a significant facet the prosecutor has to prove in such a case, upon which the investigation gets finalized. The mandatory reporting laws require that certain occupations report any suspected actions of child abuse and neglect. These professions include social service providers, teachers, and childcare workers.

Again it is essential to note that the act must have been willingly imposed or conducted by the defendant. Aside from the torture and harm inflicted on the child, the CA Penal Code involves neglection of the child. Neglect is failing to provide for the child, secluding the youngster from other children intentionally, failing to cloth the child, feeding as well as providing shelter to them, to mention a few.

These and a host of other inhuman gestures are classified as abusive acts, however much they may not involve physical inflictions to the child. Remember that also using nasty verbal gestures like loud yelling as well as putting them in a position that is not in their best interest. Such actions may result in criminal charges being brought against you under a host of different theories and sections of the Criminal Code. Nevertheless, this depends on the circumstances of the situation as well as the age of the victim.

Hence such charges, especially in LA, are very critical. Prosecutors strive to remove all possible hurdles to defend the child at all costs. Therefore, due to this, the defense attorney must assess the case, ensure that he/she gets all the available info as well as ensure that it is logical enough to beat the case. Therefore you must take quick action and seek an experienced LA criminal defense law attorney right away.

Various Elements of Child Abuse

As illustrated earlier, the law pinpoints the forms in which one may be charged for child abuse. Maltreatment of a child may be classified into physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

  1. Physical Abuse

Physical abuse involves a deliberate act of an adult, whether parent, guardian, or any other person, to exercise a physical force that is strong enough to cause a high chance of damage to the wellbeing, dignity, endurance, or improvement of the child. Physical abuse involves acts like smacking, kicking, using any dangerous item to hit a child, suffocating, strangling, and burning.

However, according to the law, it deems the intentional exaction of brutal harm or measures that leave the child at a perceptible risk of severe harm or death, to be illegal. In most cases, physical abuse may lead to numerous complications to the child, including psychological trauma, personality disorders, to mention a few.

  1. Emotional/Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse, or emotional abuse, may be equated with deliberate vocal or symbolic actions by a child's caregiver, guardian, or relative that upshots, or comprises a sensible possibility to result in a significant psychosomatic injury to the child. Such actions may lead to mental afflictions of the child. The repeated act by the adult may cause or display a message that may trigger the emotions of the child, thus causing trauma.

Some of these actions may include loud yelling to the child, thus causing shame to them, neglecting the child, secluding the child from other persons or children, and ignoring or humiliating the child. Children that fall victim to this may end up growing with low self-esteem, insecurities as well as lack of development within themselves. In some cases, it may change the child's attitude, and at a later age, they may end up doing the same acts they experienced to their young ones.

  1. Sexual Abuse

Any child abuse whereby a grown-up, who is an elderly adolescent, maltreats a youngster for a sexual drive is referred to as sexual abuse. Under the CA law, any person below the age of 18 is a child. This form of abuse involves the involvement of a kid in a sexual act intended for one's physical pleasure or the monetary benefit of the personality committing the act. 

Sexual abuse actions comprise displaying pornography to a youngster, requesting, or to some extent, exerting pressure on a child to participate in sexual activities. The improper revelation of a child's private parts, sexual intercourse with a child, or physical contact with a child's private parts form part of sexual abuse. The list also includes viewing of a young one's genitalia without necessary physical contact or exploiting a child to make child pornography.

Such acts may expose the victim to sexually transmitted infections as their immune systems are not mature enough to handle such diseases. Aside from that, it may cause the children to face numerous problems such as psychological trauma conditions, guilt, nightmares, or insomnia.

  1. Neglect

A case of child neglect by the parent, guardian, sibling, or any other individual responsible for caring for a child may also not be taken lightly by the courts. Neglecting a child is denoted as another form of child abuse. Therefore a defendant in such a scenario is likely to face penalties of up to $2,000 and one year in jail. Child molestation is also another sensitive form of child abuse.

  1. Child Molestation

Child molestation is a type of sexual abuse whereby a grown-up or n juvenile exploits a young person for sexual stimulation. A defendant facing allegations of child molestation is likely to face a sentence in state prison for a period of 3 to 8 years. In a situation where the defendant has been earlier convicted of the same crime for more than three times, they are likely to face 6 to 16 years in state prison.

Legal Penalties for a Child Abuse Case

Facing allegations on child abuse is very sensitive, especially in LA. Such a case means serving a term in state prison for many years. This case is not only going to land you in a penitentiary institute but also, you may get registered as a child offender for life to make things worse. Such outcomes mean that your chances of gaining employment in certain areas or any other privileges as any citizen will be a harsh task. Therefore you need to seek consultation with an experienced LA criminal defense attorney to help defend your rights and protect you from a wrongful conviction.

Under the CA Penal Code 273d, the prosecutor may take two options of filing the matter. It may be either a felony case or a misdemeanor. Their decision again depends on the defendant's records, that is, if the defendant has a criminal history of the same or any other illegal activity and the meticulous state of affairs of the alleged child abuse case.

Felony

If the defendant is charged with a felony, this means that he/she can serve conviction in a jail sentence of up to six years and up to ten years if the defendant was earlier convicted of child abuse. The sentence also includes a fine of up to $6,000.

Misdemeanor

On the other hand, if the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor, the penalties can include prison time of up to a year in the LA county penitentiary. The defendant also risks a fine of up to $6,000. In addition to the sentence, the defendant will be required to complete parenting classes.

Probation Conditions for Abuse of Children Cases

The prosecutor sometimes will prefer probation as an alternative of sentence for child abuse. Such penalties may be for misconduct parole or lawbreaking parole. Under the law, any term of punishment for abuse of a minor must include the following circumstances:

A mandatory Minimum Probation Period of Three Years

A federal court must provide a protective order for the casualty. This order forbids further hostility or threats against the victim. It may as well ban the accused from having or attempting to get in touch with the victim.

There must be the successful completion of a child abuser's treatment program lasting at least one year.

Regularly Report to the Assigned Probation Officer

Note that unless the prosecutor deems it would not be in the interest of justice, then the conditions may be increased from the already existing ones. The prosecutor can request for random drug testing  of the accused. This request is made if the crime was committed while the accused was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Possible Defenses Against Child Abuse Charges

Child abuse, being a severe offense, is too sensitive that if you get your boots in it, you may need to pursue expert guidance without interruption. Hence if you know anyone accused or charged with child abuse, seek the services of The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm for prompt action. The defense team will strive to thoroughly review and assess all the specific details to settle on an appropriate legal defense stratagem.

False Accusations

The strategy will guide the attorney to strive hard in a bid to fight for your rights against wrongful actions. Child abuse charges are usually classified as domestic violence. For a case to be filed, there must be an act and an accusation. However, several defenses can be raised when defending someone accused of child abuse. Some of these accusations may be true and others false. False accusations, in most cases, may come about as a result of certain situations like differences during divorce proceedings.

For any case to be validly acknowledged, it would be necessary to prove that the allegations were untrue or grossly exaggerated. Other situations are where a defendant's conduct falls within what is considered permissible under the law. In such circumstances, the defendant would not be guilty of child abuse. In any case, defenses and in particular instances of child abuse will be based on the facts of the case, which means that they will be developed on the foundation of the events of what happened.

The criminal defense attorney may as well prove the thesis as to why you may be falsely accused. Some reasons may be, for instance, someone in your family or part of your setting that tries to falsely accuse you as a move of revenge, jealousy, anger, a desire to be in control, or any other matter that may involve gaining custody of the child.

Such accusations are common in regard to a child abuse case. However, with an in-depth investigation from your criminal defense attorney, and the presentation of your defense in court, the prosecution's efforts may fail to materialize to a conviction. This is because, for the defendant to be proven guilty of the actions, many factors need to be checked on, with regard to the investigation records and evidence available.

Accident

Children have a high probability of hurting themselves to adults as a result of an accident. This is due to the activities and circumstances that may cause the same. For instance, while in school, kids may be prone to fights and probably might come home with a black eye. This may not be the fault of the parent or caregiver.

Examples of typical accidents like school fights, children getting hurt while playing, or falling from the bicycle are things you cannot avoid or be in control of if your presence was missing. Such accidents that are unintentional and don't result in a high degree of negligence will not be deemed child abuse.

However, some situations are considered as gross misconduct or total negligence by the caregiver. Such actions are inexcusable in law. For instance, if an adult in charge of a child, leaves the youngster in a car to get some groceries for a long time in spite of the unfavorable conditions of the environment, he/she will be charged with a high degree of negligence. The environmental conditions may cause distress to the child, validly putting the defendant in trouble.

Medical Condition and Diseases

As illustrated earlier, children are more frequently prone to accidents than adults. On the other hand, some children face several medical complications, and as a result, are highly exposed to injury. In a case where the child suffers from a brittle bone structure, it means that they are highly susceptible to breaking their bones. In such a case, the child abuse defense may be accessible if it can be shown that the kid has a medical condition that is liable for or is in a way connected to the injuries incurred.

However, some complex situations make it hard to determine the medical condition to defend the accused. An example of such a condition is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP). This may require expertise from psychologists as well as proof relating to the state for defense.

Religious Beliefs

A claim may be produced in most jurisdictions that a child didn't receive proper medical care where therapy would be in breach of a religious belief. Although the child may have a treatable disease, relatives may choose not to pursue medical treatment for the baby and choose prayer or other spiritual remedies.

While this alternative to the medical condition may appear to be highly disconcerting, such decisions may still be within the bounds of spiritual liberties and choices. In nations that provide immunity to Christian religious beliefs, no child abuse charges may be lodged. However, this contentious protection is not entirely agreeable, and the scenarios under which it may be available will differ from state to state.

Discipline From Parents and Caregivers

Every parent has a right to discipline their children. However, the method of punishment adopted matters as the laws highly regulate it. This means that the chosen method must be reasonable, and one must ensure that it does not result in bodily injury to the child. Failure of this may lead to a child abuse charge. For example, a parent spanking a child, or threatening to punish a child is common. This may not be termed as a severe case of abuse.

Aside from parental responsibilities, caregivers may take on the duties of the parents in their absence. Examples of these caregivers may be babysitters, teachers, caretakers, to mention a few. This may be described with the term, 'loco parentis' which means an individual or organization that assumes some of the "parent's" tasks and duties.

In these kinds of situations, the defense of "parental privilege" may be called upon. This means that the accountable persons have the right to discipline the child fairly in their care, similar to that of a parent. This defense would not apply if the kid suffered more than minor bruising or injuries from penal interventions.

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Even though the prosecutor has a stringent obligation to prove that you have raised a threat that is considered illegal and risky, you also need a proficient criminal defense attorney to fight the prosecution's charges. The legal representative should be well-versed with California criminal law and be willing to use the most suitable protection strategies depending on the specific truth of your situation, and that's what you get when you deal with LA Criminal Defense Law Firm. You can effortlessly speak to our lawyers at The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm by calling 310-935-1675 to find a way to move forward in your case.