California Child Abuse Laws – Can I legally spank my child?

California Penal Code 273d PC punishes “corporal injury or punishment on a child” commonly referred to as child abuse. This offense is known as a “wobbler,” meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of your case and your criminal history. Less serious acts or injuries will be charged as misdemeanors and those more serious will be charged as felonies.

Under this law, child abuse is described as the willful infliction of cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or any injury that results in a traumatic condition. Meaning if you intentionally harm a child and it results in a visible or internal injury, even if it is minor, you may still be charged.

Some examples include:

  • hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, pushing, shaking, choking, burning, or throwing an object at a child.

Spanking is usually not considered child abuse because parents have a right to discipline their children “reasonably” in a manner they see fit. Spanking, when used to discipline, is not considered child abuse under California law unless it becomes unreasonable, excessive, or causes bodily injury.

There is no specific definition of what qualifies as child abuse under California Penal Code 273d PC. The jury will review the circumstances surrounding the incident to decide whether or not it was abuse.

Defenses to Penal Code 273d – Child Abuse include:

  • False allegations of child abuse
  • Injuries caused by things other than child abuse
  • Parent’s right to discipline
  • The injury is a result of an accident

If you are charged with child abuse, it is important that you hire a knowledgeable California criminal defense lawyer who can convince the court that the alleged punishment was a reasonable means of discipline. Additionally, false allegations of child abuse or misleading evidence can destroy your family, reputation, career, and freedom.

William Daley is an aggressive criminal defense and San Diego DUI lawyer with over thirty years of experience. Call THE LAW OFFICE OF WILLIAM DALEY at (619) 238-1905 to set up a free 30 minute consultation today!

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