Penal Code 273d for California says, “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 and shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to two, four, or six years, or in a county jail for not more than one year.” When you commit the dastardly act of bringing harm to a child, you prepare for bad punishment when you are convicted. However, as with all crimes, sometimes allegations of child abuse are unjust in certain situations. What are some defenses to this horrible crime?
Types of Defenses for Child Abuse
- False Allegations: Falsely accusing somebody of child abuse happens more often than you think. It is easy for somebody to accuse someone and it is easy for the defendant to say that they did not do it, in any situation. The best way to defend false child abuse charges is to counter-attack the allegations as aggressively as possible and show proof of the lie. If you have evidence that the accuser likes to falsely accuse people of things, it is good to show that evidence.
- Injury is Result of Accident: Unless the accident was a result of pure gross negligence, many state child abuse laws will not punish them. An example of a true accident is accidentally slamming a door on a child’s finger when you had no idea that was going to happen. An example of negligence would be purposely pushing a toddler down a few stairs because you got angry. Courts are split on the idea of whether or not they should prosecute parents who accidentally cause harm to a child when acting with negligence.
- Injury is Result of Something Other than Abuse: Sometimes genetic issues, like brittle bone disease, have been raised as a defense to show that someone’s injuries were the result of a disorder that causes a child’s bones to break easily, and were not actually caused by child abuse.
- Parent’s Right to Discipline: Parents, for the most part, are free to discipline their children in any manner they choose. However, the discipline cannot be unreasonable or cause bodily harm. If a child’s injuries are more serious than minor bruising as a result of discipline, in cases where a parent or teacher causes the harm, then abuse will come into play.
- Religious Beliefs of Exemption: Parents, because of religious beliefs, may refuse to seek medical care for a sick child. The sad fact of the matter is that, in many cases, they died because of an easily treatable illness. Religious exemption is extremely controversial but a handful of states allow it. The parents then escape charges of child abuse if they choose praying over taking them to an actual doctor.
- MSBP: Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) is used in incidents in which a child caregiver (which will usually be the mother) lies or promoted illnesses in their children in an attempt to draw attention or sympathy to themselves. This defense will apply if there is psychological proof.
More on Defending Yourself Against Criminal Charges
If somebody has been falsely accused of child abuse, they will likely experience confused and fearful feelings. However, defendants being accused of this heinous crime must be prepared for something known as discovery. During discovery, it is known that the government is not permitted to convict people based on secret evidence and everything must be disclosed to a defendant. In a child abuse case, these things may include interviews with the child, reports by CPS, things that caseworkers have recommended, and more. This can help the accused gain strategies for when their case makes it to court.
If you have been wrongfully accused of child abuse or believe that you have a strong defense, you should contact a lawyer that understands your case. The Blair Law Firm will work with you to help you in your time of need. Child abuse cases can be extremely complex and involve a lot of laws that you may be unfamiliar with. Call today for a consultation to find out where to turn next.