Child Abuse Laws in California

Child Abuse Laws in California

Being charged with abusing a child is a serious offense in California, and it carries a harsh punishment. There are several laws in the penal code that address the various forms of neglect or endangerment a child can face. Specifically, according to California Penal Code 273d PC, child abuse is defined as the intentional act of physical injury or cruel physical punishment upon a child. These physical forms of abuse include disciplining a child through force (beating them), hitting, slapping, or fighting a child hard enough so that it leaves marks and/or bruises.

Potential Legal Defenses Against Child Abuse Charges

If you believe you have been falsely charged with child abuse, then you must immediately consult with an experienced criminal attorney. False accusations of child abuse can have damaging consequences; an attorney will help navigate the process of defending your rights in these cases. Possible defenses include proving that you did not physically injure the child on purpose, that the discipline enforced had been within your right as a parent to act with your child, or that the marks and bruises on the child were not a result of physical abuse.

Punishment for Child Abuse Convictions

The conviction described by California Penal Code 273d PC is a wobbler offense. Therefore, depending on the context of the child abuse case or the number of past convictions (related or unrelated), the guilty party can face either a misdemeanor or a felony charge. First of all, the names of convicted individuals are added to the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI) database. Furthermore, if the crime constituted a misdemeanor charge, then the perpetrator faces a maximum of one year in jail. If the wobbler charge is increased to a felony, then there is an associated punishment of six years or more in a prison facility.

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