Child abuse charges range from misdemeanors to serious felonies. The level of offense is determined by a number of factors, including whether the conduct was negligent or reckless or knowing and whether there was any injury.
You may be charged with child abuse for something seemingly harmless, such as leaving your child unattended while you run into the store or disciplining your child. If there are injuries, the consequences and penalties are more significant. It is also common to see child abuse charged if a person is driving under the influence or while impaired with a child in the car. Regardless, being convicted of child abuse may have a long-lasting effects. Child abuse charges may result in social services’ involvement and long term effects on parental rights and responsibilities.
In some situations, reasonable parental discipline may provide a defense to the alleged conduct. The law provides parents with the discretion to discipline their children the way they see fit, within reason. Understanding your background and the circumstances surrounding the discipline is imperative and effectively communicating this information to the prosecution or a jury could be the difference between a dismissal and a conviction.