According to California law, child abuse is willfully inflicting cruel and inhuman punishment on a minor, or otherwise injuring them in a way that is not part of what the courts consider reasonable discipline. For example, hitting, kicking, pushing, punching, shaking, burning, or choking a child could all be child abuse. In most cases, spanking – when not excessive – will be considered reasonable discipline and not be considered child abuse.
This definition makes the situation seem cut and dry but anyone who’s been charged with child abuse knows there is nothing simple about this type of charge. Read on to learn about your potential defense options. Then contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at 909-920-0908 to request a legal consultation.
More about the term ‘willful’
One important thing to note is that when it comes to child abuse, the idea that it must be willful does not mean that the adult meant to get the result of the action – only that they meant to take the action itself. For example, if an adult yanked hard on a child’s arm, they may not have meant to dislocate the child’s arm but if they did, then the action would be considered willful. Even though they did not intend the consequence, they did intend to take the action of yanking on the child’s arm.
Potential consequences of being convicted of child abuse
There are many factors used to determine punishment for an adult convicted of child abuse, including said adult’s criminal history and the specifics the case. However, it is common for a prosecutor to want to appear tough on this type of crime, and so they will more often charge a wobbler offense as a felony even when they can charge it as a misdemeanor.
If convicted of a misdemeanor, the penalty can be as harsh as a year in jail, but a felony conviction comes with two, four, or six years in prison with the possibility of a sentencing enhancement up to four years if there is a previous conviction for child abuse in the last decade. There are also fines of up to $6,000 for both felonies and misdemeanors.
Potential legal defense options for charges of child abuse
The reality is that child abuse allegations may be fake. The child could have made it up not understanding how serious the allegation was, or a co-custodial parent could have made it up out of anger or jealousy, or perhaps to get revenge. Defense options start with proving that the abuse did not take place. We can bring in expert witnesses to discount the allegations or to show that the actions taken do not meet the requirements.
Every case is different. If you have been charged with child abuse then you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. do not risk your freedom – contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at 909-920-0908 now.