Corporal Punishment Lawyer San Francisco, CA
The issue of corporal punishment has long been a divisive issue in both California and across the country. What at one time may have been an acceptable way to discipline a child, society – and laws – now consider child abuse. Many parents feel they are losing control over what they see as an appropriate discipline, having to defend themselves to other parents, school officials, and investigators. If you find yourself in this position or are facing accusations of child abuse, contact Hallinan Law Firm to speak with a corporal punishment lawyer San Francisco, CA families trust.
The Difference Between Corporal Punishment and Child Abuse
The lines between physically disciplining a child and child abuse are legally blurry. Child abuse laws protect children from “excessive corporal punishment” but most state laws do not specify what “excessive” is. Instead, this distinction is left up to investigators from child protective service agencies and police officers. The final distinction is left up to the judge or jury should the case go to trial.
An objective standard of reasonableness is supposed to be used by the legal system in order to determine a person who has been charged with child abuse is guilty or not guilty. For example, a parent may think that disciplining a child by striking them with a belt is reasonable based on the way they grew up and were disciplined by their parents. But a judge may consider that form of discipline as excessive.
A domestic assault lawyer San Francisco, CA clients recommend knows that in order to prove a parent guilty of child abuse, a prosecutor may present any of the following as evidence:
- Witness accounts: If the alleged incident or incidents took place in public or where there were other people present, the prosecutor may call those people to testify as to what they saw happen, what the parent did to discipline the child, what the parent’s demeanor and condition were, how the child reacted, and if the disciplining left any marks on the child.
- Medical records and/or photographs: If it was necessary for the child to receive medical treatment for injuries inflicted by the discipline, this information, along with any photos of the injuries, can be presented as evidence during the trial. Any medical professionals that treated the child may also be called as witnesses.
- Documentation from law enforcement or protective agency: Any statements made by any official involved in investigating the alleged abuse can be entered into evidence. This includes statements made by the child, as well as the parent who has been charged.
In California, child abuse is a wobbler law, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A prosecutor will make that determination based on the facts of the incident(s) and what the parent’s criminal history is. If a parent is convicted of misdemeanor child abuse, they face up to a year in jail and up to $6,000 in fines. If a parent is convicted of felony child abuse, they face two- to six-year in prison and a fine of up to $6,000.
If you have been charged with child abuse, contact Hallinan Law Firm to schedule a consultation with a San Francisco, CA corporal punishment lawyer.