California Child Abuse Laws – Penal Code 273d

This is a situation where someone inflicts corporal injury to a child.  Usually I see these cases where parents become angry with their children and decide to physically beat them as part of their punishment.

The Jury Instructions that is used in these cases is CALCRIM 823, which basically says that every person who willfully inflicts upon any child any cruel or inhumane corporal punishment or injury resulting in a traumatic condition is guilty of a violation of Penal Code Section 273d.

It goes on to define a traumatic condition as a condition of the body such as a wound or external or internal injury whether of a minor or serious nature caused by physical force.  Then it talks about corporal punishment as that administered to the body.

In order to prove this crime, each of the following elements must be proved:  (1) a person willfully inflicted cruel or inhumane punishment or injury upon the body of a child; and (2) the infliction of that punishment or injury resulted in a traumatic condition.

So, if you really zero-in on this sanction it’s pretty murky as far as what if a parent just becomes angry and spanks their child.  Probably the authorities are not going to get involved with a case like that as long as there’s no physical injury, but I do see these cases where a child is punished and the hey go school and there’s some sort of a mark on them or they tell the school authorities that their parents beat them.

If the school authorities can see anything visible or the child is complaining of any serious pain or injury, they’re going to call the police in and now you’ve got a whole police investigation going.

Factors Considered by Prosecutors on Filing Criminal Case

How it’s going to be decided whether or not a criminal case is going to be filed is going to be determined by the prosecutors, because they’re lawyers.  They know the case law here and if you listened carefully or read carefully this child beating Section 273d, you don’t even have to be the parent of the child to be charged with this.

If you are the parent of the child and you attack a child physically and there’s some sort of a traumatic condition — if they can see some sort of an injury — even if it’s a minor injury — you can be charged under this particular Section.

Obviously, this is a really scary things for parents who discipline their children physically because if the authorities get their hands on the case, then you can be charged with a crime.  Not only would you be charged with a crime, you’re looking at a situation where they’re going to put a protective order in place against you related to your child.

So now, you may be ordered to stay away from your child for a period of time while you are punished, get parenting classes and even sometimes have to go to jail depending on how badly the child was injured — how badly the beating was administered to the child.

So, if you have one of these cases you have a big problem and you need to get to an attorney right away because another entity that becomes involved in these cases is Child Services.

They’re going to come into the home, look at the house, see what’s going on there and then they’re going to start asking questions and you may say something where you incriminate yourself.

This puts you in a very difficult position because on the one hand you want to talk to them and cooperate with them so you can have your parental rights, but on the other hand, if they’re just going to pass that information along to the police, that puts you in a very difficult position.

Reviewing Defense Strategy with Criminal Lawyer

This is where an attorney needs to get involved and get a strategy together so that you can help protect your rights, your interest, your freedom, and of course your future with your child.

Being charged with abuse of a child is a serious and difficult problem that requires the assistance of an experienced and well informed criminal defense lawyer. In a jury trial, the jury generally favors the child and that is why it is very important to retain the services of an aggressive, intelligent, persuasive child abuse defense attorney.

We have the necessary knowledge, skill and strategy to effectively represent you in a child abuse case. In a child abuse case, it is vital to act quickly and intervene at the early stages of the process.

Child abuse is defined by California Penal Code Section 273d which makes it a punishable crime to inflict corporal injury or punishment on a child. This does not include spanking due to a parent’s right to discipline his or her child as he or she sees fit.

The crime is a wobbler meaning that it may be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the severity of the abuse and other surrounding circumstances such as priors and criminal history.

If prosecuted as a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence is one-year in a county jail and a $6,000 fine. If prosecuted as a felony, it carries a California State Prison sentence of two, four, or six years and the same maximum fine.

So, if you’ve got a case where you’re being charged with beating your child and have been arrested, are facing court proceedings, pick up the phone.  Make the call.  Come and sit in the privacy of my office and we can go over all of the facts and details of what happened so we can get you the best outcome.

As your lawyer, we will assert any and all defenses applicable on your behalf. We will aggressively fight and do everything we can to get the best possible results. Set up a FREE case evaluation.