Important California Laws To Know – Child Abuse, Neglect, And Endangerment

Important California Laws To Know – Child Abuse, Neglect, And Endangerment

Important California Laws To Know – Child Abuse, Neglect, And Endangerment

The following are some important California laws related to the abuse, neglect, and endangerment of children.

Penal Code § 270 Child neglect

This statute addresses the abandonment and neglect of children by stating the following:

If a parent of a minor child willfully omits, without lawful excuse, to furnish necessary clothing, food, shelter or medical attendance, or other remedial care for his or her child, he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor…”

Proof of abandonment or desertion of a child by such parent, or the omission by such parent to furnish necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical attendance or other remedial care for his or her child is prima facie evidence that these actions are willful and without lawful excuse.

Examples of neglect include the following:

  1. Failing to provide warm clothing to a child when the weather is inclement or cold.
  2. Failing to take a child to the doctor when he or she is ill.
  3. Failing to provide food for a child despite the financial ability to do so.

The offense of child neglect is punishable by time in county jail up to one year, and/or a maximum fine of $2,000. A defendant may receive misdemeanor or summary probation instead of time in county jail.

Penal Code § 273A Child endangerment

This statute applies when any person willfully exposes a child to pain, suffering, or danger. This is an important California statute because it punishes the possibility of harm to a child whereas California Penal Code § 273D PC punishes actual harm to a child. Thus, a person may be charged under 273A for subjecting the child to an unreasonable risk of harm, even if the child never suffers actual physical harm.

Examples of child endangerment include the following:

  • Leaving a minor in the care of an adult with a history of abusing others
  • Leaving a firearm, knife, or another dangerous device where a child may easily access it
  • Leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle during hot weather
  • Possessing and using illegal drugs in the presence of a child

This crime is a wobbler, charged as a misdemeanor unless the act created a risk of death or great bodily harm, in which case it is charged as a felony.

Penal Code § 273D Child abuse

This statute defines the crime of child abuse in California. Since this is a wobbler offense, any person who willfully inflicts upon a child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or an injury resulting in a traumatic condition may be guilty of a misdemeanor or felony.

An accused is more likely to be charged with a felony when the act was especially cruel, the injury to the child was very serious, and/or the accused has one or more prior convictions for child abuse or related offenses. Anyone convicted under this statute who has a prior conviction receives a four-year sentencing enhancement.

While the list of those actions that are considered abusive to children is not exhaustive in California, examples of child abuse include pushing, slapping, shaking, hitting, punching, and choking a child.

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