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California Child Abuse Attorney

Child Abuse

One of the most serious and life-changing crimes a person can be charged with is child abuse. Child abuse is prosecuted in California as a severe crime and, as such, is subject to lengthy guidelines and strict penalties under comprehensive laws. While the law should protect vulnerable children, the law should also protect the many parents, caregivers, and others who work with and around children who are often wrongfully accused of child abuse.

In many instances, child abuse allegations stem from misunderstandings or false accusations. The consequences of being convicted of child abuse can be devastating. Those found guilty can face prison sentences and heavy fines. A child abuse conviction can leave a person with a criminal record that makes finding employment difficult. Child abuse allegations can also severely harm relationships with loved ones and others. If you are facing child abuse charges, you need quality legal representation from an experienced Oxnard criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Daniel E. Kann who will advise you as to your legal rights and options. Our law team has years of experience defending the rights of those facing serious crimes in California and will work tirelessly to build a strong case on your behalf.

California Child Abuse Laws

Under California Penal Code Section 273d(a) child physical abuse is a "wobbler," meaning that depending on the circumstances and criminal history of the defendant, it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. California Penal Code Section 273d, states that, "Any person who willfully inflicts upon a child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or an injury resulting in a traumatic condition is guilty of a felony." However, if the punishment is deemed to have not been "cruel or inhuman" or did not cause the child to be in a traumatic condition, it may be reduced to or charged as a misdemeanor.

California Penal Code Section 11165.2 defines child neglect as "the negligent treatment or the maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for the child's welfare under circumstances indicating harm or threatened harm to the child's health or welfare. The term includes both acts and omissions on the part of the responsible person." This is separated into two categories under California law: "severe neglect" and "general neglect." Defendants are charged with severe neglect when they fail to protect the child or children they are responsible for from serious malnutrition or "medically diagnosed failure to thrive." Additionally, if the child is willfully caused or permitted to be placed in a situation where his or her health is endangered, this can also be considered severe neglect.

General neglect is defined as the negligent failure of a person who is responsible for the care or custody of a child where he or she fails to provide the child with adequate clothing, food, medical care, shelter, and/or supervision. For a crime to be considered general neglect instead of severe neglect, there must not have been physical harm done to the child.

Under California Penal Code Section 11165.1, child sexual abuse includes sexual assault and sexual exploitation and includes all contact with a child's genitals other than for strictly valid medical purposes, any contact with the child's genitals or intimate parts for any sexual purposes, and any sexual activity committed in the presence of a child. Additionally, anyone, whether responsible for a child's welfare or not, who promotes, permits, encourages, assists, or aids a child in engaging in prostitution, a live performance of obscene sexual content, or posing for the depiction of obscene sexual content can be charged with sexual exploitation.

The Punishment

Penalties for child abuse depend on whether it is charged as a felony or misdemeanor crime, which is based on the nature of the crime and what injuries were inflicted on the child. Felony charges include abuse that results in a "traumatic condition," with penalties under Penal Code Section 273d including imprisonment for two, four, or six years. If this is the second conviction of that crime, however, penalties can be subject to a four-year enhancement. Under California Penal Code Section 273ab, if the abuse results in the child dying, entering a comatose state, or suffering permanent paralysis, the defendant can be sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.

Under California Penal Code Section 288, child sexual abuse is a felony and penalties can range from three, six, or eight years in state prison. When committed by use of force, violence, or other means of intimidation, this sentence increases to five, eight, or 10 years. Additionally, a fine of up to $10,000 may be imposed and the convicted person will be required to register for life as a sex offender under California Penal Code Section 290.

When child abuse is deemed to be a misdemeanor, the punishment can be up to one year in county jail, a maximum $6,000 fine, or both imprisonment and the fine.

Effective Defenses

The act was not willful, i.e.; it was unintentional.

The parent exercised their right to discipline their child, i.e.; they employed "reasonable" corporal punishment such as spanking without causing injury to the child.

The defendant was falsely accused, i.e.; the child or someone else made up the story.

The child was injured or somehow endangered but the defendant was not culpable. This could occur where the defendant left the child with a third party whom the defendant had no reason to believe would harm or endanger the child.

Contacting a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Obviously, the stakes in a child abuse case can be extremely high for everyone involved, with lasting repercussions including incarceration as well as damage to personal relationships, familial connections, and livelihood. If you or a loved one is facing child abuse charges, please contact an experienced Oxnard child abuse defense lawyer before speaking with authorities or anyone else. Additionally, it is important that you not make any admissions or try to manage a police interrogation without a lawyer present. An experienced defense attorney will conduct an appropriate investigation in order to uncover mitigating factors or show that the accusations are unfounded altogether.

Experienced lawyer Daniel E. Kann has a successful track record of defending those facing such charges. Mr. Kann will fight to protect your rights and ensure that your case is presented fairly. Contact us today to discuss your case before you speak with authorities or the media. We are here to help you.