Child Abuse can take many forms and each can result in criminal prosecution and civil penalties. Common forms of child abuse include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Any neglectful act that results in a child's death or any exploitation of a child constitutes child abuse.

What Is Physical Child Abuse?

A child is being physically abused when they are:
  • Hit with a belt or paddle (spanking is generally not against the law)
  • Pinched hard enough to leave a mark that doesn't go right away
  • Burned (for example with cigarettes, a lighter, an iron or the stove top burner)
  • Bitten hard enough to leave a mark or break the skin
  • Pushed into walls or knocked to the floor, choked, kicked or punched

What Is Sexual Child Abuse?

A child is being sexually abused when a person:
  • Improperly touches the child's private parts
  • Shows a child improper nude pictures
  • Takes pictures of the child without his or her clothes on
  • Entices the child with the intent of sexually abusing the child

What Is Emotional Child Abuse?

A child is being emotionally abused when the care taker:
  • Calls the child names that are really mean
  • Tells the child that they are worthless, stupid or "a mistake"
  • Tells the child that they are never good enough or can't do anything right
  • Tells the child they wish the child had never been born

What Is Neglect of a Child?

A child is neglected when the care taker leaves the child:
  • Hungry much of the time without enough food or water
  • Without medicine or medical care
  • Without warm clothes in winter, or cooler clothes in summer
  • Home alone when the child is too young to take care of his/her self safely
  • Locked in a room for hours or even days at a time

What If I Have Been Accused of Child Abuse?

The age of a child in a child abuse case can be a factor in the type of punishment you can get in a child abuse case. Also the severity of the child abuse would also be another factor in the punishment you can get in a child abuse case. You can be arrested and convicted of the crime of child abuse. Criminal consequences for child abusers include:
  • Imprisonment
  • Probation or parole
  • Loss of custody or visitation with your children
  • It could be on your record for life
  • Anger management or parenting classes
The likelihood of any of the above consequences depends on:
  • The severity of the child abuse
  • Similar prior convictions
  • Whether you are currently on probation or parole
  • The number of instances of child abuse

Can I be Held Civilly Liable for Child Abuse?

You can also be held civilly liable to the victim in a private lawsuit. You may be liable to pay the victim money for their:
  • Pain and suffering
  • Similar prior convictions
  • Direct out-of-pocket medical expenses

Do I Need a Lawyer If I Have Been Accused of Child Abuse?

If you are accused of Child Abuse, you should speak to a criminal defense attorney immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses and the complicated legal system. If you are a victim of Child Abuse, you should call the police. If there is sufficient evidence, the police will then forward your case to the District Attorney's office to prosecute the person who committed the child abuse against you. Vea esta página en español: Abuso de Menores Criminal o visita Abogados-Leyes.com para más información legal.