Legal Penalties for Child Abuse

A Family Law law book with a gavel

The period when a woman finds out she is pregnant is one of the happiest ones for most people. While most couples and single parents will set out trying to give their children the best life, some are not as intent on this. Child abuse has, unfortunately, marred the childhoods of many kids worldwide. While it was talked about in hushed tones for ages, the government is now taking a keen interest in child abuse cases.

Although the elements that constitute child abuse legally might be somewhat a gray zone, a Glen Burnie–based attorney will assess whether or not your specifics constitute the same. Even so, it is illegal for anyone to recklessly or intentionally injure a child. If you can prove that someone is abusing a child using documented evidence and testimonies, there are several penalties the defendant in your case might be slapped with. The following are the typical penalties.

Parenting Training

This is used in cases of minor child abuse by a child’s parents or caretaker. In this case, the courts will order the abuser to undergo parenting training and at times, psychological help if mental issues are ascertained to be the primary cause of the abuse. The court-appointed professional handling the sessions is required to report on the defendant’s progress. This way, the courts will determine if additional penalties should be instituted or if the child is safe with the accused after the training.

Child Removal from the Abusive Location

In extreme cases of child abuse, removing the child from the abusive environment becomes the best choice. The child, in this case, might be placed with a relative or in foster care. The removal will be permanent or temporary contingent to the particulars of the case. If the abuser seeks help and makes positive progress, the child might be returned to them after some time. There are times when the child will be permanently removed from the care of the abuser, but they will be allowed supervised visits.

Termination of Parental Rights

This happens in extreme child abuse cases where a parent does not want to seek treatment for the issues contributing to child abuse. The penalty also applies to situations where the parent has been given chances of seeking rehabilitation in the past but has not made progress. In this case, the child is taken from the abuser’s custody, and they will have no contact with the child.

Jail Sentences

Family law concept with gavel

The most severe cases of child abuse generally carry felony sentences that run several years to lifetimes.  Most child abuse cases attract a minimum five-year sentence and probation. If the abuse is sexual, the abuser is required to register as a pedophile. The abuser is usually required to have no contact with the affected child after their sentence.

In states that have the mandatory reporting law, failure to promptly report suspected child abuse cases irrespective of your relation to the child also attracts harsh penalties. The above penalties will also apply to cases of divorce where child abuse is a contributing issue to the divorce. This does not, however, mean that if your partner is abusing your child, you should ignore if you are not thinking of a divorce.