California Penal Code section 273d, commonly known as child abuse, encompasses various acts of physical force or violence against a child. Penal Code section 273d defines child abuse as the willful infliction of cruel and inhuman punishment or injury upon a child, causing the child to suffer a traumatic physical injury. It also requires that your actions not merely be reasonable force used for discipling your child.
This crime is a wobbler offense in the state of California, meaning it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The decision of whether to file this crime as a felony or misdemeanor is usually determined by the severity of the abuse against the child, as well as the defendant’s criminal record or lack thereof. As a felony, child abuse pursuant to Penal Code section 273d carries with it two, four, or six years in state prison. As a misdemeanor, on the other hand, the maximum sentence is up to one year in county jail.
In addition to Penal Code section 273d, child abuse encompasses other crimes including Penal Code section 273a, more specifically, the crime of child endangerment. In contrast to child abuse, child endangerment does not require the child actually suffer any physical harm. Rather, the child need only be put in a situation where there was a likelihood that he or she would be harmed. For instance, this crime may be charged where a child is left with an individual who you know to have a history of violent and abusive behavior. If the child is harmed and the prosecutor can prove that you should have known about the individual’s prior history of violence, then you could be charged with the crime of child endangerment, even if you were not present when the child was physically injured. Similar to child abuse, child endangerment is also a wobbler offense and may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The same factors will be used to consider how to charge this crime.
Many times, parents or guardians may be suspected of committing the crime of child abuse when the child was actually injured due to a fall, sports, or horseplay. Due to the California Child Abuse & Neglect Reporting Act, professionals such as doctors, teachers, counselors, coaches, nurses, social workers, etc… are required by law to report any instances of injury that they may suspect stem from child abuse or neglect. This means that this crime may be investigated and even filed in cases where the injury comes from a very innocent source.
If you are facing either the crime of child abuse or child endangerment, therefore, it is extremely critical to have a knowledgable child abuse attorney review your case and explore what defenses are available to you. Many times, prosecutors will over-charge a case, even though the evidence is insufficient to find you guilty of the offense. Similarly, in many cases, an experienced attorney will be able to file a motion pursuant to Penal Code section 17(b) in order to have your case reduced from a serious felony conviction to a much less serious misdemeanor. Contact our skilled Child Abuse Attorneys today at The Law Offices of Parwana Anwar, PLC.