Hire a Lawyer Who Specializes In Crimes Against Children Defense To Help You Fight Your Charges
California law carries significant consequences for a conviction of a crime against a child. As a parent or caregiver, it can be confusing trying to clearly understand what actions can give rise to an allegation of a crime.
False accusations or misrepresentations can be devastating to the person accused and can have far-reaching implications in all aspects of your life. Defending yourself against a charge or accusation of a crime against a child can be complicated.
Every one of your actions or words can be used as part of a narrative that, true or not, may see you facing jail time, loss of custody, and more.
You’ll want a qualified criminal defense attorney to guide you in mounting the best defense to criminal charges involving children, including child abuse, child endangerment, and child abandonment. For a free consultation about the details of your case and how we can help, contact the experienced California child abuse defense lawyers at My Rights Law immediately at (888) 702-8882 or through our secure web form.
Under California law, “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.” In other words, if you intend to do the act and that act causes physical injury to a child, you can be charged with felony child abuse. Some of the acts that often cause injury and thus come under this charge include:
hitting, kicking, punching, or slapping a child
throwing an item at a child
pushing or throwing a child
burning or choking a child
Does this mean you cannot spank your child for fear of a child abuse charge? Not so long as it is done reasonably and for disciplinary purposes. However, spanking could rise to the level of child abuse IF you willfully or intentionally inflict injury in a cruel or inhumane manner. If you are accused of or facing charges of child abuse, it is extremely important for you to speak to an attorney immediately to discuss the circumstances of your case.
Child Endangerment – Penal Code 273a PC
California considers child endangerment to occur when an individual willfully exposes a child to unreasonable pain, suffering, or danger, even if the child suffers no actual harm. Any adult can face a charge of child endangerment, not just the actual parents of the child involved. Child endangerment charges often accompany domestic violence and child abuse charges, both of which place the child directly in harm’s way (even if no actual harm occurred).
A variety of things can lead to charges. For example:
leaving weapons, drugs, alcohol, or other dangerous objects out where a child can reach or access them
failing to obtain proper medical care for the child
keeping the child in an unsafe environment (like with no electricity or running water)
allowing a person with a history of abuse to care for the child
Punishment under California law can depend on whether you exposed the child to risks that could result in death or significant bodily injury. If you are accused of child endangerment, a skilled attorney may be able to help you assert a defense to the charges; for example, that you were legally disciplining the child or that a false accusation has been made against you, or that you didn’t intentionally expose the child to the danger.
Child Neglect And Abandonment – Penal Code 270 PC
In California, child neglect or abandonment can be a civil (family law) and a criminal (child abuse) offense. Civilly, child abandonment can become a custody issue but may not rise to the level of a crime. However, a misdemeanor or felony charge can be brought against you as a parent or guardian if you fail, without a legal excuse, to adequately provide:
Willfully causing, allowing, or inflicting unjustifiable pain or mental suffering, or injury to a child in your care, or allowing a child to be placed in such a situation constitutes a felony under California law. If you know that your child is in a situation that could expose them to mental pain or physical harm and do nothing to change it, you could face charges. Because of the complicated nuances of both civil and criminal abandonment and neglect cases, discussing your situation immediately with an attorney can help you take legal steps to address the problems.
Child Molestation – Penal Code 647.6 PC
California laws governing child molestation include a variety of sex crimes committed against a minor. These crimes focus on “lewd and lascivious acts,” which occur if you touch the body of a minor or cause the minor to touch your body in a sexual manner—even above clothing. Factors that influence the charges include:
the age of the child
your age if the child is aged 14 or 15
whether force, violence, or a weapon was used in the commission of the act
the nature of the contact (for example, ranging from oral copulation to touching)
whether the contact occurred once or was recurring over time
Other acts covered under the child molestation laws include:
solicitation of a minor with intent to engage in lewd or lascivious acts
annoying or molesting a minor – acting towards a minor in a way motivated by sexual interest that a reasonable person would find disturbing
If convicted of a child molestation crime, penalties include prison sentences, mandatory registration as a sex offender, and hefty fines. Even simply being accused of a child molestation crime can carry devastating consequences in all areas of your life.
Statutory Rape – Penal Code 261.5 PC
California law makes it a crime for an adult over 18 years old to have sexual intercourse with a minor, under 18, unless married to that minor. Violation of this statute can result in criminal and civil penalties depending on the facts of the situation. The ages of the victim and accused and the difference between them often determine the severity of the charges. For example:
If you are less than three years older than the minor victim, you can be charged with a misdemeanor—even if both of you are minors and the sexual act was consensual
If you are more than three years older than the minor victim, the charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts and your history
If you are 21 or older and the minor is under 16, you are much more likely to be charged with a felony absent mitigating circumstances.
Whether the accusation or charges arose out of an intentional act (such as two high school students having intercourse, but one is a minor and one is 18) or an unintentional one (having intercourse with someone at a party who lies about their age), accusations of statutory rape take a heavy toll on all involved. Consult with an attorney well-versed in these statutory laws to discuss your defense as soon as possible.
California maintains a Child Abuse Criminal Index—CACI—a state-wide database used by law enforcement and anyone who provides child services to help prevent repeat abuse. To be placed on the CACI, you do not need a criminal conviction; you simply need to have a “substantiated” claim made against you.
An investigation will be conducted when an allegation of severe neglect or abuse (mental, physical, sexual, or emotional) is made against you. This allegation could be made by a “mandatory reporter”—a professional such as a teacher, doctor, or mental health professional required by law to report suspicions of abuse—or a regular citizen.
While there can be penalties for knowingly making a false accusation that your accuser may have to face, once your name is submitted to CACI, you will bear the stigma and burden of the investigation. If the investigation determines the alleged abuse or neglect “more likely than not” occurred, the claim is deemed “substantiated,” and both your name and the victim’s name will be placed on the CACI. If you are over the age of 18 when the acts occurred, your name will remain on the CACI until the age of 100.
If you act within 30 days of notice that your name is on CACI and are not facing criminal charges from the actions in the complaint, you can request a grievance hearing to challenge the findings. This involves a complicated process and would best be handled by an attorney experienced in CACI.
If you are the subject of a CACI investigation, have just been added to the list, or are facing criminal child abuse charges, please contact My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882 or online immediately to discuss how to best protect your interests and name.
Contacting An Experienced Defense Attorney
The defense attorney you choose can make the difference between having criminal charges dismissed or being severely punished. My Rights Law’s strong team of criminal lawyers have the resources and experience that enable us to pursue difficult cases yielding favorable results. We protect our clients through our expertise in the law and extensive experience in handling all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases including, but not limited to, alcohol-related crimes, drug crimes, violent crimes, domestic violence, sex crimes, crimes against children, theft crimes, juvenile delinquency crimes, gun crimes, property crimes, cybercrimes, driving offenses, public safety crimes, federal crimes, financial crimes, crimes against the government, crimes against justice, and inchoate crimes. We also specialize in restraining orders, pretrial diversion programs, and expungements.
You don’t want a child abuse conviction on your record. Take child abuse allegations seriously, especially sexual abuse and sexual assault, no matter how unfounded or false the accusations are. If you’re in California and accused of child sexual abuse or another crime against children, consult with My Rights Law, as our attorneys have extensive experience in representing the accused in California. To learn more about how we can help you, call My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882 or contact us through our secure form today.
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