Defending yourself against a child abuse charge can be problematic, especially if it involves the testimony of a child. Combine that with the media's negative portrayal of child abuse offenders and it may seem impossible to defend against a child abuse allegation.
If you are charged with child abuse (whether physical, emotional, or sexual) an experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to develop a thorough defense strategy and help cast doubt on the prosecutor's case. Like any other crime, an individual charged with child abuse has the same rights as defendants of other crimes, including the right to defend themselves against a criminal charge.
The easiest way to explain the difference between child abuse and child endangerment is to look at the wording of the law itself. The State of California’s child abuse statute prohibits physical abuse of a minor. Courts give parents a great deal of leeway in disciplining their children through spanking, but a parent, stepparent, family member or caregiver may not injure the child. Any injury could become the basis for a child abuse charge. The law doesn't explicitly require “great bodily injury” but only some physical sign of injury.
Child endangerment, unlike child abuse, requires no physical injury but prohibits a much broader type of behavior. You can be found guilty of child endangerment if you:
- Willfully inflicted unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on a child
- Willfully caused or permitted a child to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, and were criminally negligent, and not acting while reasonably disciplining a child
- Caused or permitted a child in your care or custody to be injured, and were criminally negligent, and not acting while reasonably disciplining a child
- Caused or permitted a child in your custody to be put in a dangerous situation and were criminally negligent, and not acting while reasonably disciplining a child
Many child abuse and child endangerment accusations can fester in the midst of divorces or breakups. Unfortunately, ex-spouses or ex-partners can make false accusations in order to claim child abuse or child endangerment out of spite, anger, or to prevent you from having custody and/or visitation rights. Young children and angry teens are sometimes coerced by the ex in these painful accusations, and are coached to accuse you.
If you are facing allegations of great bodily injury, child endangerment is prosecuted as a felony and counted as a strike under California’s three-strikes law. You also need not be the person that directly inflicted the alleged injury. You can be found guilty even if you simply left your child in a situation that “permitted” the injury.
If you were criminally negligent or you acted willfully; these are questions you should discuss with a skilled attorney that can determine whether or not your actions constitute criminality. Child abuse charges carry serious consequences. Make certain that you find competent, skilled, and knowledgeable representation. Call the Law Offices of Sara D Bratsch, today at (559) 713-1542.