Child abuse is one of the most serious criminal offenses that a person can face. Criminal charges for abusing children cover several different behaviors that have been determined to endanger the safety of a child.
What Is Child Abuse?
This criminal charge can be filed against anyone who causes serious physical harm to a child. This applies to cases of intentional violence as well as harm caused by neglect. Behaviors that can be classified as abuse of a child include:
- physically hitting, striking or beating a child
- knowingly depriving a child of food or medical treatment
- neglecting to provide a child with food or nourishment
- inappropriately restraining or restricting a child’s movement
Legal Penalties for Hurting Children
In most cases, endangering a child’s safety or causing a child bodily harm is a felony offense. A conviction for this crime can lead to a sentence of years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines and the loss of certain rights and freedoms.
Some examples of legal penalties include:
- intentionally causing serious bodily injury to a child is a first-degree felony, punishable by five to 99 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine
- recklessly causing bodily injury to a child is a second degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
- causing injury to a child through criminal negligence is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and a $10,000 fine
Child Violence Legal Defenses
In many cases, a person will be charged with injury to a child based on accusations made by another adult, a sibling of the injured child or the child that was injured. In these cases, Child Protective Services may be called in to investigate the situation and gather evidence.
If there is no physical evidence, a defense attorney may be able to argue that the accusation is baseless. If there is physical evidence of injury, the attorney may be able to argue that the injury was sustained accidentally, which may cause the charges to be lowered to a less serious level.