California abuse and assault laws are differentiated, in part, by who the victim was. There are many different kinds of abuse under California's laws, such as child abuse, elder abuse, and domestic abuse. It is important to understand that while these may be related, they are considered separate criminal offenses because of the identity of the victim.
Child abuse differs from domestic abuse. Though you may abuse a child within a domestic situation, California law does not recognize it as domestic violence. Domestic violence is defined as abuse or threats of abuse to someone whom you are or have been in an intimate relationship with. The person can be a present or former spouse, fiancé, boyfriend, girlfriend, or cohabitant, in some cases. It can also include someone you are closely related to through blood or marriage, or the parent of your child.
The abuse can be:
- Psychological, or
The legal definition of child abuse is very broad. California defines child abuse as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse inflicted on a child by another. The person does not need to be related to the child. The types of child abuse recognized by the State of California include:
- Sexual: the victimization of a child through sexual activities or treatment
- Physical: the physical harming of a child through cruel treatment, unjustifiable punishment, or corporal punishment
- Emotional: nonphysical treatment that harms the child, resulting in disturbed behavioral reactions, such as causing a child to suffer, inflicting mental suffering, or endangering his or her emotional well-being
- Exploitation: forcing or coercing a child to do something that is beyond the child's capabilities or that is illegal or degrading
- Child neglect can also be a form of child abuse if the negligence threatens the safety and well-being of the child. Types of child neglect recognized as child abuse by the State of California include:
- General neglect: where a guardian or caretaker fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or supervision. No physical injury need be inflicted.
- Severe neglect: Severe neglect which endangers a child's health
It is important to understand the differences between domestic violence and child abuse because while they may both afflict members of the same household, the consequences and concerned parties differ greatly. Domestic violence convictions carry many harsh repercussions. You can face jail time, large fines, fees, and restitution, batterer's intervention classes, and probation. You may also have your gun rights taken away.
Child abuse convictions come with their own harsh consequences. A child abuse offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The specifics of your case and your criminal history will determine how your offense will be charged. A misdemeanor child abuse conviction could result in up to one year in a county jail, but you may face at least two to six years in prison for a felony conviction. On top of these sentences, Child Welfare Services may be involved. This can affect your custody or rights to visit your child. In some cases, you will lose your right to see your child altogether. You may be subject to ongoing monitoring as well.
Instances of child abuse in California are high. So many go unreported that those that are reported face aggressive prosecution. Unfortunately, doing something that California views as child abuse can be easier than you think. All it takes is a slight bruise to land you facing charges. A child abuse conviction can have a dramatic impact on your life. Beyond the penalties you will face, you will also have to face public discrimination and judgment. To say child abuse is frowned upon in society today is an understatement. Your reputation, dignity, and your relationship with those close to you could all be on the line.
You should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing child abuse charges. There are several possible defenses you can raise to a child abuse charge. Sometimes a child's injury or condition is caused by something outside of the parent's control. Sometimes the harm was unintentional. These charges are difficult to face, and you may need skilled legal representation to prevail. Don't risk it all on a poorly prepared defense. A good attorney can help you prepare for your court dates and can advise you on the best plan of action for your case.
Do you have questions about child abuse charges? If so, contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for expert counsel. Experienced in criminal defense, our Visalia area legal team can evaluate your case and advise you on a plan of action. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Christopher Martens will aggressively defend your rights and help you get the outcome you want. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.