Child abuse is an umbrella term that encompasses multiple complex offenses. In California, child abuse is defined as the intentional act of physically, sexually, or emotionally harming a child. Because most forms of child abuse occur within family or domestic relationships, the majority of these cases are classified as domestic violence. However, this does not mean that child abuse cannot occur outside the home or family. Acts of abuse against children can happen anywhere, including in schools, daycares, and or even other people’s homes.
The Varying Forms of Child Abuse
While many people assume that abuse only involves physical harm, an individual can be charged with child abuse for a variety of reasons. At My SoCal Lawyers, our attorneys can represent you against daunting allegations like child abuse. California’s laws recognize the following forms of child abuse and neglect:
Physical violence is one of the most common forms of child abuse in the state. California defines physical child abuse as when an adult inflicts bodily injury on a minor. To be charged with physically abusing a child, the prosecution must prove that you willfully or intentionally used physical action against a child and that it was not an accident. The offense must also have resulted in the child being harmed. While parents and guardians do have the right to punish their children how they see fit, this does not give them the right to use violence as a form of “unjustifiable punishment.” Examples of physical child abuse can include, but are not limited to, the following behaviors:
- Restraining a child
- Throwing something at a child
- Refusing to give a child their basic needs
- Pushing a child down the stairs or into hard objects
Emotional abuse can traumatize a child and impact their growing process immensely. Because abuse is recognized as a method of control, emotional abuse is common in households where parents or guardians are trying to hold excessive power over their children. Emotional abuse is a nonphysical behavior that involves using threatening, derogatory, and manipulative tactics against a child. Individuals who have been accused of emotional child abuse can face similar consequences to defendants who have been charged with physical violence against a child. This is because both are seen as a form of child abuse and are often classified as an act of domestic violence. Behaviors that are classified as emotional abuse against children include:
- Constant bullying
- Attacking a child’s self-worth
- Humiliating a child at home or in public
- Blaming, scapegoating, or gaslighting a child
- Making a child question their own reality because of statements that you make
- Criticizing everything a child does to attack their self-esteem
- Degrading a child or making them perform degrading acts
- Purposefully refraining from participating in acts of love or intimacy
- Using consistent derogatory language when talking to or about your child
Any sexual act that is committed by an adult against a minor is a sex crime in California. If an individual is found to have been continuously committing sex acts against a child who is 14 years of age or younger, they may face felony sexual abuse charges. Sexual abuse against a child is seen as especially violent and includes offenses such as molestation, rape, incest, and more. Even if a child does “consent” to the behavior, the court will most likely rule that they are not of sound mind to make decisions on matters like these. Sexual abuse can include:
- Performing sexual acts on a child who is too young to understand what’s happening
- Performing sexual acts on a child who did not or cannot consent
- Touching a child inappropriately or in a sexual way
- Kidnapping or manipulating a child into being trafficked
- Forcing a child to let others perform sexual acts on them
Exploitation is a relatively broad term that includes multiple child abuse offenses. While, in most cases, the exploitation of a child is sexual, there are also cases of degrading exploitation. Generally, exploitation is described as when an individual forces, manipulates, or coerces a child into doing something that they do not have the capacity to understand. This could include sexual, degrading, or humiliating acts that can traumatize a child. Examples of exploitation as a form of child abuse can include:
- Asking a child to perform a sexual act when they don’t know what it is
- Asking a child to perform a degrading act in public
- Forcing a child to perform illegal acts because they don’t yet understand the weight of their actions
- Taking inappropriate photos of a child when they are too young to consent
- Grooming or luring a child on the internet and manipulating them into sexual behavior
Child abuse and neglect are seen as two separate offenses, but neglect is often included as a form of child abuse as well. California recognizes two forms of child neglect that an individual may be charged with:
- General Neglect: According to state law, general neglect occurs when a parent or guardian fails to provide a child with their basic needs. This could include not providing them with adequate food, shelter, clothing, or proper supervision. General neglect is not considered to cause physical harm, but it has the potential to.
- Severe Neglect: Severe neglect occurs when it is clear that a child is in poor health or endangered. This happens when general neglect occurs for an extended period, ultimately leading to a child becoming sick. Examples of severe neglect include not feeding your child to the point of malnutrition.
How My SoCal Lawyers Can Help You
The legal proceedings of any criminal case can be extremely complicated, which is why working with an accomplished defense lawyer can be such a big help. At My SoCal Lawyers, our experienced team of criminal attorneys offers valuable assistance to those facing intimidating allegations. By making the decision to hire our private defense team, you can benefit from our:
- Insight Into Criminal Law: If you or someone you know were accused of child abuse, you need to find an attorney who has comprehensive knowledge of California’s criminal law. By choosing one of our defense lawyers, you can trust that we can share our knowledge with you. Our extensive insight into California’s criminal and family laws gives us a large advantage in representing our clients and finding resolutions to their cases.
- Dedicated Guidance and Advice: Unless you’re a judicial officer or lawyer, you likely won’t have much knowledge about the legal proceedings of a child abuse case. Luckily, our attorneys can offer you advice tailored to your unique case and assist you in navigating the complex aspects of it.
- Negotiation and Settlement Skills: Charges like child abuse carry heavy consequences and can even result in losing child custody. Because of this, you need the help of a practiced defense lawyer who has powerful negotiation skills and knowledge of your situation. Our lawyers can represent you, negotiate for terms that are most beneficial to you, and even work to find settlements for your case outside of court.
Child Abuse Defense Lawyers in Murrieta, CA
If convicted of child abuse in California, an individual can face fines, loss of child custody, and even prison time. Here at My SoCal Lawyers, we understand the penalties that you are going up against in a child abuse case. We offer representation that is unbiased and dedicated to representing your side of the story. From creating defenses to negotiating for settlements, our team of criminal defense attorneys shares 70 years of experience helping Southern California residents with their legal issues. If you need legal defense for a child abuse case in Murrieta, contact My SoCal Lawyers to discuss what our team may be able to do for you.