Criminal Defense Lawyer in Sacramento Explains Child Abuse Criminal Charges

As a parent, you’re entitled to discipline your child as you deem necessary at least to a certain extent. According to California Penal Code 273, child abuse is considered a domestic violence crime and is subject to severe penalties. Such a conviction can not only destroy your reputation, family and career, but can ultimately destroy your life and freedom. It’s not too uncommon for individuals to be falsely accused of child abuse, especially when there are many factors and parties involved. That’s why it’s crucial if you, or someone you know has been falsely accused of child abuse, contacts a criminal defense lawyer in Sacramento to fight for your freedom.

Difference Between California Child Abuse and Child Endangerment Laws

These two terms are often misunderstood and mistaken for being the same but in reality, there’s a big difference. The major difference is that child abuse refers to the physical harming of a minor such as:

  • Slapping or hitting a child hard enough to leave marks or bruises
  • Beating a child with items such as a belt
  • Sexually assaulting minors
  • Physically fighting teenagers
  • Anything else that leaves some physical injury

It’s important to note that it does not require “great bodily injury” to be considered child abuse. In fact, in order to prove the defendant committed child abuse, three elements need to be established:

  1. The defendant willfully inflicted cruel or inhuman physical punishment
  2. The punishment caused a traumatic physical condition
  3. The act was not reasonable in the realms of acceptable forms of discipline

Each element is pretty broad and open to interpretation, which is why it’s crucial to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Sacramento who knows what defenses to take.

Unlike child abuse, child endangerment is much more broad but doesn’t require any physical injury such as:

  • Wilfully abandoning or neglecting a child
  • Wilfully inflicted or permitted a child to be put in a dangerous situation
  • Wilfully inflicted or permitted a child to undergo mental suffering

There is a fine line between what could be considered reasonable discipline and what is physical abuse. Given such intricate complexities, it’s best to speak to a criminal defense lawyer in Sacramento if you’ve been accused of child abuse.

Penalties for Child Abuse Charges in California

Child abuse is considered a “wobbler” in California which means it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the specifics of the case. If charged as a felony, you could be sentenced up to 6 years in prison. If you have previous child abuse convictions, the prison sentence increases by an additional 4 years. It’s also important to keep in mind that the court may impose additional conditions. Having a trusted criminal defense lawyer in Sacramento on your side can make all the difference for your freedom and reputation.

Possible Legal Defenses to Child Abuse Charges

If you’ve been accused of child abuse, you might feel emotionally exhausted and hopeless but there are certain defenses you can take! Just because you’ve been accused, does not mean you are guilty and it’s important a criminal defense lawyer in Sacramento explains which defenses are most applicable to your case. Some common defenses used are:

  • The allegations are not true
  • The injuries were a result of something other than abuse
  • The act was within your right to discipline
  • You accidentally or did not willfully intend to injury the child

Each case is different and only an experienced law firm will know how to handle your situation.

Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Sacramento if You’ve Been Accused of Child Abuse

Being convicted of child abuse can alter your life in many different ways. Not only can it damage your reputation but it can also strip away your freedom. The Law Office of Wing & Parisi knows how emotionally devastating such a situation can be in your life which is why we put our clients first to ensure justice is served. Give us a call at (916) 441-4888 to speak to a criminal defense lawyer in Sacramento.


If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, contact the Law Office of Wing & Parisi for free consultation.