San Diego Child Abuse Lawyer
A child abuse criminal charge can be devastating for a parent or caretaker, and all it takes is one simple statement taken out of context to start a snowball reaction that leads to a criminal charge. While legitimate child abuse is a very serious offense and should be handled properly, many child abuse charges are unfounded.
If a bystander calls Child Protective Services, you could be at risk of losing custody of your child and facing criminal charges for what someone you may have never met thinks you did. Many allegations of child abuse are investigated and determined to be false later on, leaving heartbroken parents and childcare workers picking up the pieces after everything is said and done. At the Law Office of George Gedulin in San Diego, we understand that child abuse is not always as straightforward as people think. Each case requires a careful look at the details, and many claims may not have any basis in fact whatsoever.
Child Abuse Charges
Child abuse is an encompassing term that includes many categories of abuse. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse are all considered criminal under California law, but are more likely to fall under child endangerment charges instead of child abuse if there is no injury present. Negligence during supervision is also a criminal offense of child endangerment.
Any sexual or physical activity that causes physical or emotional trauma is often considered child abuse and may be punishable by imprisonment, fines, and registration as a sex offender. If you do not understand the charges that have been brought against you, our firm can help you understand exactly what you are facing so you can make informed decisions regarding your case.
Child Endangerment CA PC273a
Separate from charges related to sexual abuse is the category of physical and mental harm of children. CA PC 273 lists many felony and misdemeanor child abuse laws that cover a variety of scenarios. CA PC 273a (a) is often defined as child endangerment. The prosecutors office sometimes charges this as a felony for willfully permitting child cruelty. This may include a driver being arrested for a DUI with a young child riding in the back seat. A situation where the child could have suffered serious bodily injury or where a child had physical or mental suffering fits the penal code. This law is concerned not only with actual harm done but the potential that a child may have been seriously injured or killed. Punishment for this crime if convicted can be as high as six years in State prison.
CA PC 273a (b) is a misdemeanor child abuse offense. The crime involved is any situation that does NOT involve the possibility of serious harm or death to a child. However placing a child in needless suffering or physical harm is still a misdemeanor offense.
CA PC 273d is the crime of causing a serious injury to a child by cruel or inhuman punishment. If the actions of a parent or any person causes the child to suffer a traumatic condition they can be convicted of felony child abuse and cruelty.
How Erroneous Child Abuse Accusation Arise
Children, angry cohabitants, or exes may contrive child abuse stories to inflict pain on someone. Many may not understand the gravity of what they are accusing, and the law tends to err on the side of the accuser when it comes to child abuse and child endangerment cases. Still other cases could be precipitated by a school teacher or nurse who notices an injury on a child. Each child abuse case is different and may require a different focus to build a defense.
If you have been charged with child abuse, a proactive approach to your situation may be the best way to move forward. Our team at the Law Office of George Gedulin has extensive experience handling child abuse defense cases and can help you determine the best course of action if you are being targeted by a vindictive ex or have been mistakenly accused.
Common Defenses to Child Abuse Allegations
Children deserve protection from abuse and a safe environment to grow and thrive. When someone falsely or erroneously accuses another person of child abuse, it affects more than just the accused. False accusations leave lasting marks on the accused’s reputation, and the court system will almost always lean in favor of the child. Defending against a child abuse charge is extremely difficult and will require the services of a knowledgeable, experienced defense attorney.
False charges also hinder the justice system from pursuing real offenders. False accusations made out of spite, misinformation, misinterpretation of events, or any other similar situations distract police and other judicial entities away from real child abuse incidents. If someone makes an entirely false claim against you, it’s imperative that you build a solid case and hold him or her accountable for lying. In some cases, the child in question may be facing abuse from another person, yet you’re the one charged. It’s important to build your defense to both clear your name and hold the guilty party responsible.
Kids like to explore, and some play rough. Occasional cuts and scrapes are part of growing up, and accidents happen. Even if you personally injured a child by accident, if you can prove it was an honest mistake, you should have a solid defense if someone else files charges against you. The only time an accident would lead to your liability for the child’s injuries would be if the accident happened due to negligence. Lax supervision, dangerous elements in the child’s environment, or allowing dangerous people near the child or to supervise the child could lead to a negligence charge – or even child endangerment charges.
Parents have the right to discipline their children how they see fit, as long as the disciplinary measures cause no bodily injury. A spanking may result in mild bruising, and the courts generally don’t consider this serious harm. Any injuries beyond mild, reasonably expected bruising from a spanking will more than likely result in the court declaring parental privilege for discipline inapplicable in the case.
It may be difficult for some people to accept, but many parents cite religious beliefs as cause to avoid medical treatment for their children – even easily treatable illnesses. There have been many news stories in recent years about kids dying due to their parents’ refusal to seek medical treatment, and although controversial, religious exemption is a viable defense in some states.
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) is a mental health condition that spurs some individuals to lie about their child’s health in order to garner sympathy and attention from others. This defense isn’t cited often and will require documentation from a medical or psychological professional to hold up in court.
Why Child Abuse Cases Are So Difficult
Many cases of child abuse depend on hearsay. Unfortunately, hearsay is not accurate very often. If you have ever played the game “telephone” where you whisper a phrase down a line of people, you know how easy it is for simple phrases to be misconstrued. Many child abuse cases are no different. Cases may come down to proving the credibility of witnesses and the defendant during the case. Unless there is physical evidence of trauma that can be directly tied back to the defendant, a child abuse conviction may be at the discretion of who the jury found more believable.
Our firm has seen the court process in child abuse cases over and over again. We know the best way to approach these unique situations, we know the court systems, and we know the key players in the San Diego area. If you are being investigated for child abuse or facing charges, contact our office as soon as possible.
Consequences of Child Endangerment Conviction
Unfortunately most people who are charged with child abuse or child endangerment are the parent or guardian of the child. Even an arrest for child abuse will result in a criminal protective order being issued. CPS will begin their own investigation separate from the police.
The family court may later issue its own restraining orders which deny a parent the right to visit with their child. These all can occur long before the criminal case is resolved or goes to trial.
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