These days, everyone knows it is against the law to beat a child, but many people worry that merely raising a hand to spank a child is a criminal offense in California. The bottom line is that spanking is legal, but it must fall under what the law defines as “reasonable discipline” and that is where many parents get in trouble. Here’s what you should know according to Vista domestic violence attorney Peter M. Liss.
While child-rearing experts around the globe debate the merits of corporal punishment, the law does not consider whether it is right or wrong, but merely sets limits regarding what is considered abuse and what is considered “reasonable discipline.” While everyone will have their own personal definition of reasonable discipline, the only one that matters when it comes to the legal definition of child abuse is the one defined by the law, which states that the punishment must be warranted and not be excessive under the specific circumstances. The punishment must also not fall under the legal definition of child abuse, which occurs when a child is exposed to cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or an injury that results in a traumatic condition, including but not limited to punching, kicking or choking. Unfortunately, these definitions leave a lot of gray area between what is legal and what is legal, which is why it is so important to always work with a top Vista child abuse defense attorney if you have been charged with a crime after trying to punish your child.
Again, circumstance is one of the most important factors in determining if a spanking falls under reasonable discipline or child abuse. In one case that went before the California Circuit Court of Appeals, it was determined that parents could use a wooden spoon to spank their child, even though it left bruises, because they tried multiple forms of non-violent punishment to curb their daughter’s bad behavior before turning to spanking.
Child abuse cases should always be taken seriously and always require the expertise of a top Vista domestic violence lawyer. Aside from the risk of losing custody of your child or children, you could also face misdemeanor or felony charges. Those convicted of misdemeanor child abuse can be sentenced to up to one year in jail and a fine of $6,000, while those convicted of felony charges will face up to six years in prison. Keep in mind that this is time spent away from your child and the rest of your family.
If you have been accused of child abuse, Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Vista domestic violence defense lawyer.