DC Child Abuse Penalties

There are two different degrees of the offense of cruelty to children. The higher level offense, which is cruelty to children in the first degree, carries a maximum of 15 years in prison, a maximum fine of $37,500, or both.

The lower offense of second-degree cruelty to children still carries serious penalties. Such a crime carries a maximum incarceration period of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000. Thus, second-degree cruelty to children is a felony offense, even though it is considered to be a lower level cruelty to children offense.

To further understand the penalties associated with child abuse in DC, it is pertinent to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable DC child abuse lawyer will be able to build a case to help produce a successful result on behalf of their client.

Long-Term Consequences

Cruelty to children offenses are considered to be extremely serious in Washington, D.C. They are prosecuted frequently as felonies and prosecuted aggressively. The penalties one may face for a DC child abuse charge are often severe.

If a person has been convicted of either first or second-degree cruelty to children, they face the possibility of a significant amount of prison time and lengthy probation periods. The possibility of fines and the administrative DC child abuse penalties that a family court or domestic relations court could impose could potentially result in Child Protective Services taking the child from the guardian or imposing orders restricting contact that the adult who has been convicted of the offense could have with the child.

If the adult who has been accused and convicted of cruelty to children is a legal guardian of the child, it could negatively affect the ability of that guardian to continue having a close role in raising and being around the child. The long-term consequences outside of the possible prison time, probation, sentences, and fines can impact both the life of the person charged and the life of the child involved.

Defense Strategies

Sometimes when people have been accused of cruelty to children they think it is a matter that is internal to a family, meaning it is something that can be resolved within the family and the courts and prosecutors do not need to be involved.

That is not the case in DC, because these situations are aggressively prosecuted. There can be defenses to these cases and only by speaking with a lawyer experienced in child abuse cases can a person explore what those defenses might be. Such defenses can be used to lessen any penalties an individual may be facing in their DC child abuse case.

Defenses could involve challenging the recollections of the child. Children’s memory and their perceptions on things can often be skewed and children sometimes remember things in different ways.

Children can also sometimes be influenced by other adults with authority who may have an incentive to manipulate the child’s memory or assist and encourage the child to possibly fabricate allegations. These are all defenses that need to be discussed and explored as to whether they may be viable defenses to challenge allegations of cruelty to children.

Benefit of Legal Representation

There are often defenses, such as a parent exercising a legal ability to discipline a child, that do not work in every cruelty to children allegation.

DC law does permit parents to impose a certain amount of physical discipline. These are all defenses that a person can only fully explore by contacting and discussing the case with a criminal defense lawyer in DC who has a background and experience handling these sensitive and difficult types of cases. A qualified attorney can assist an individual in minimizing any penalties they may be facing as a result of their DC child abuse charge.