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Child Abuse

California Penal Code Section 273d

California’s child abuse laws are found in Penal Code section 273d. Generally defined as the act of physically injuring or imposing cruel physical punishment on a child, child abuse can include slapping a child, fighting with a minor or using force as a method of punishing a child. Child abuse should not be confused with California Penal Code section 273a, which lays out the elements of child endangerment and includes child neglect and sexual and emotional abuse of a child.

According to the law, in order to be convicted of child abuse, the prosecution must prove the existence of three specific elements:

  • You willfully inflicted cruel and inhumane punishment and or injury on a child;
  • The punishment or injury caused the child to suffer a traumatic physical condition;
  • Your actions were not part of a reasonable discipline of your child.

If these three elements are shown and you are convicted of California child abuse, you are likely going to face tough penalties. For one part, child abuse falls under the California’s wobbler law, meaning the prosecution has the option to either charge with a misdemeanor or felony act of child abuse. His or her decision will come down to your criminal history and, most importantly, the facts of your specific case.

What’s the difference? Time. For a misdemeanor child abuse conviction you can be sentenced to serve up to one year in a county jail. For a felony child abuse conviction, however, you can be sentenced either to two, four or even six years in a state prison. If you have prior child abuse convictions, your sentence can be even more.

A child abuse charge is a serious matter that can have profound consequences on all aspects of your life. Because there is so much ‘grey’ area as to what is ‘willful’ and ‘reasonable discipline’, it is important that you consult an experienced California child abuse attorney to make sure you present your best defenses to the court and/or jury.

Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan I. Kelman at 310.286.1218 today for your free initial consultation.

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