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Could Spanking Your Child be a Crime?

Raising children inevitably involves discipline---and sometimes that discipline comes in the form of a spanking. A recent poll showed that as much as 65% of Americans approved of spanking a child as a form of discipline and 50% actually reported spanking their own children from time to time. Yet, when does spanking become a crime? Could you be guilty of child abuse if you choose to spank your child?

NFL running back, Adrian Peterson, got in major trouble last year for disciplining his child too harshly. The star running back used a tree branch as a switch to doll out "lashes" on the young 4-year-old child's legs as punishment. He was charged with child abuse, a form of domestic violence in many states.

What Does the Law Say?

California's criminal law, Penal Code 273a PC, is also known as California's endangerment law and it specifically addresses the crime of child abuse, which is a crime under domestic violence laws in California. According to Penal Code 273a PC, if you slap a child hard enough to leave a mark, engage in a physical fight with a teenager that leaves marks, or beat a child with a belt or object to discipline him or her, you could be found guilty of child abuse & domestic violence.

Prosecutors do not take these charges lightly. In fact, they are often exceedingly aggressive at seeking maximum charges when a child is involved. Because child abuse is considered a wobbler in California, prosecutors can choose to charge the parent with a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are charged with misdemeanor child abuse and convicted, you could find yourself serving up to one year in county jail. If you are charged with a felony and convicted, you may find yourself in prison for more than six years.

Manipulation of Child Abuse & DV Charges

California's child abuse statute is just one of several California domestic violence laws. It falls under the domestic violence umbrella because of the child's dependency on the adult.

Sadly, like other domestic violence accusations, many individuals report child abuse to gain the upper hand in divorce proceedings and child custody cases. They may claim child abuse out of revenge or a desire to be in control. Many child abuse claims are made against an ex-spouse's new boyfriend or girlfriend, simply to gain custody or damage their relationship. They can even be made by children, who wish to punish their parents or their parent's new boyfriend or girlfriend.

Sadly, false accusations of child abuse detract from the real victims in our society – and siphon resources away from those who truly need it.

Arrested? Get Legal Counsel in East Bay Today.

If you have been accused of child abuse or domestic violence because you disciplined your child, it is important to seek legal representation from a trusted Oakland criminal defense attorney. Call (510) 907-6600 to speak with the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed.

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