Child Abuse Attorneys in Orange County
Legal Defense Against Child Abuse Accusations
If you are a parent, you have likely wondered at one point or another what exactly constitutes child abuse. Knowing what kinds of physical contact are acceptable and which are unacceptable can be very difficult to determine. It used to be that the parent decides: A parent who felt that their child needed a beating with a belt was not thought of differently than a parent who felt beating their child was wrong. In fact, physical punishment was widely accepted as an effective method of parenting.
These days, things are very different. Depending upon specific circumstances, the slightest physical contact could result in a criminal charge for child abuse. Different states have different laws governing physical contact between a parent and a child, with penalties and definitions of abuse varying wildly.
California’s statutes concerning physical child abuse are somewhat average when compared to laws throughout the United States. Those facing criminal charges for child abuse are encouraged to reach out to our domestic violence defense law firm for a free consultation.
Types of Child Abuse
A person can abuse a child in several different ways. Child abuse can include emotional, sexual, and physical harm, as well as neglect. While some experts say that emotional child abuse is as damaging, if not more than, physical abuse, there is no question that all types of abuse can negatively affect a child throughout their lifetime.
The following are types of child abuse:
- Emotional abuse: When a parent constantly shames or humiliates a child in any way, it can be considered emotional child abuse.
- Child neglect: If a parent consistently fails to fulfill their child’s basic needs, this is considered child neglect.
- Sexual abuse: If a parent or other adult engages in physical contact with a child’s genitals or coerces a child into contacting the perpetrator’s own genitals, they are committing sexual abuse upon a child.
- Physical child abuse: A parent who physically harms or injures a child on purpose is considered physically abusive. The “gray area” is whether or not the parent intended to discipline their child. If the purpose was to discipline, there are still instances in which discipline can go too far. In those cases, perpetrators can be charged and convicted for committing physical child abuse.
Penalties for Physical Child Abuse in California
Several California laws govern the relationship between a parent and a child, but the one concerning cruel physical punishment and/or physical injury upon a child is California Penal Code 273D. Those accused of violating PC 273D face serious consequences. In addition to time in prison, those convicted could have trouble obtaining employment or seeing their children in the future.
Physical child abuse can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony offense.
The following are possible penalties for a conviction under PC 273D:
- Felony: 2, 4, or 6 years in California prison and/or a $6,000 fine
- Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in county jail and/or a $6,000 fine
- Subsequent offense: Four-year sentence enhancement
Child Abuse Probation Under PC 273D
The court may grant probation to a person convicted of child abuse under California Penal Code 273D.
The conditions of probation may be as follows:
- Mandatory minimum of 36 months of probation
- Protective order prohibiting future violence or threats against the victim and, if necessary, eviction from home or stay-away orders
- Completion of at least 1 year of a child abuser's treatment program
- Abstaining from using drugs and/or alcohol (if the defendant was under the influence at the time of the offense)
- Random drug testing (if the defendant was under the influence of drugs at the time of the offense)
What Is Child Abuse Under PC 273D?
California Penal Code 273D governs acts of physical injury or cruel physical punishment committed against children. Unlike statutes concerning child endangerment, Penal Code 273D PC deals specifically with acts of physical, rather than emotional, abuse.
For the prosecutor to obtain a conviction, they must prove that the defendant:
- Acted willfully,
- Committed cruel or inhuman physical punishment upon a child;
- Caused a traumatic physical condition; and
- Was not reasonably disciplining the child
A traumatic condition includes bodily injury or wounds that directly and substantially resulted from physical force.
With the mountains of information out there, it can be difficult for parents to understand what is and is not child abuse and to act within the law.
The following are considered acts of physical abuse by the state of California that can result in a criminal conviction:
- Hitting a child in a way that leaves a mark
- Fighting physically with your child leaving marks and/or bruises
- Using a belt to beat a child in an attempt to discipline
Often, parents trying to discipline their children in the best way they know how violate California’s child abuse laws. If this sounds like you, you may have a valid defense to fight your charge. Speak with a skilled Orange County domestic violence attorney to protect your rights and best interests.
What if My Child Falsely Accuses Me of Abuse?
With so many laws restricting how parents can discipline their children and the widespread information distributed to kids urging them to seek help if someone is harming them, innocent parents may be accused by their children of committing child abuse. Children, especially pre-teens and teenagers, have many emotions they do not know how to deal with. Feelings of resentment can build up and become overwhelming, leading to really bad decisions.
If you have been falsely accused, you may have several opportunities to show that your child is being dishonest about your treatment of them.
As a parent, dealing with false accusations of domestic violence can be its own battle. It can be challenging to accept the fact that your child would do such a horrific thing. Hopefully, once your name has been cleared and the authorities know what really happened, your child will have learned a valuable lesson.
An experienced child abuse attorney in Orange County can analyze the evidence for and against you to expose flaws in the prosecutor’s case. In instances of false accusations, hiring a skilled defense lawyer can be extremely beneficial. The outcome of your case may rest upon the quality of legal representation you have on your side.
If an Orange County child abuse attorney can convince a judge and/or jury that your child’s statements are not true, your charges could be dropped, or your case dismissed.
California PC 273D Child Abuse Defense
Contact our Orange County child abuse defense lawyers as soon as possible. If convicted, you may be ordered to serve time in prison and stay away from your child/children. Depending on your charge, you may also be required to have your name included on California’s sex offender’s registry list.