Child abuse involves causing physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse to a minor. It includes neglecting and exploiting a minor. States have laws to punish and deter individuals from physically and emotionally harm a minor. In California, child abuse is generally referred to as corporal injury on a child.

What is Corporal Injury on a Child?

Corporal injury on a child is when a person:

  • Willfully inflict inhuman or cruel physical injury on a minor;
  • Injures or punishes the child in a way that puts the child in a traumatic physical condition; and
  • Disciplined the child in an unreasonable way.

How Will the State Show “Traumatic Physical Condition”?

The State of California must show the above occurred to convict a defendant of child abuse. But the State will also have to prove traumatic physical condition, which means:

  • The injury resulted from the physical punishment
  • The condition was a substantial and direct factor in causing the child’s injuries
  • The condition would not have occurred without the defendant causing the physical punishment

Is Corporal Abuse of a Child the Same as Child Endangerment?

No. Child endangerment occurs when an adult carelessly or recklessly endangers the life or health of a minor. While corporal abuse is done with intent to injure, and not due to recklessness or carelessness.

Is Child Abuse in California a Misdemeanor or Felony?

In California, corporal injury on a child is considered a wobbler and it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor

If charged and convicted of misdemeanor corporal injury, a defendant may receive up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $6,000.  Felony corporal injury is punishable by 2 to 6 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $6,000. A defendant can also receive probation in addition or instead of the above punishment. 

Is the Punishment Harsher If Someone Has a Prior Child Abuse Conviction?

Yes. If this is the second conviction in 10 years, the defendant can face an additional 4 years in jail/prison. 

Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Case?

Yes. It’s in your best interest to contact a criminal lawyer to help you fight your case.