Los Angeles Child Abuse Defense Attorneys
Being accused of child abuse can destroy your reputation, as well as lead to significant criminal penalties. California courts take a strong stance against child abuse and prefer to issue hefty penalties: months to years in county jail or state prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and probation. These contentious cases should only be handled by a legal team with specialized experience.
If you or someone you love has been charged with child abuse in Los Angeles, we encourage you to contact us at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP immediately. We have decades of experience defending clients in high-profile, high-stakes criminal cases. Our Los Angeles child abuse defense lawyers can review the charges against you, develop a defense strategy, negotiate with the district attorney for reduced charges, and represent you in a criminal trial.
Do not wait. Call us at (213) 688-0460 to discuss your case in a free initial consultation.
Child abuse is defined under California Penal Code § 273d as willfully or intentionally injuring a child. Child abuse differs from corporal injuries or disciplinary actions based on how “cruel or inhuman” the punishment is. This charge can also be levied if a child suffers a “traumatic condition” as a result of the injury, which may include bruising, cuts, internal damage, and concussion. Child abuse is not an offense limited to parents, however, and can be brought against caregivers, teachers, or any individual who willfully or intentionally harms a child.
Child abuse is considered a wobbler in California, meaning the court can treat the charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony. However, if the charge involves a cruel or inhuman punishment or the defendant’s actions led to a traumatic condition for the child, then state law requires that it be treated as a felony. In situations where an individual is guilty of harming a child, but his actions are not considered cruel and the injury did not lead to a traumatic condition, it is treated as a misdemeanor.
A court will look at how severe the child’s injuries are, if a weapon or physical object was used during the punishment, or if the defendant has a history of abuse, including domestic violence. They will also consider witness testimony, such as accounts from other family members, teachers, caregivers, and medical professionals, to determine how the injuries occurred and how severe they are. Injuries caused by an accident cannot result in a child abuse charge, as the action must have been intentional or willful, but may result in a child neglect or endangerment charge, depending on the circumstances.
The punishments you can face for child abuse will depend on whether your case is treated as a misdemeanor or a felony. With a misdemeanor conviction, you face:
- Up to one year in county jail;
- Up to $6,000 in fines; and/or
- Informal probation
For a felony conviction, you can be sentenced to:
- Up to two, four, or six years in state prison;
- An additional four years for a second conviction;
- Up to $6,000 in fines; and/or
- Formal probation
A felony conviction can also deny you the right to own or use a firearm, impact your custody rights, and limit your employment opportunities. In addition, if the child suffered a disability, entered a coma, or died due to the abuse, the court can punish you with 25 years to life in state prison.
To defeat a child abuse charge, you will need a lawyer to thoroughly review the nature of your arrest, where the accusations are coming from, and the evidence against you. A prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted intentionally or willfully, that you inflicted a cruel or inhumane punishment, or that your actions led to a traumatic condition. Our legal team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP can go point by point through the allegations against you and strategically call these elements into question to have them dismissed before a court.
Defenses that we can use in a child abuse case include demonstrating that:
- The injuries were a result of an accident and not due to your intentional or willful actions.
- The punishment was within the bounds of a parent’s right to discipline a child.
- The corporal injury did not result in a traumatic condition.
- The injury was caused by another party.
- The testimony against you is inconsistent or unreliable.
- The police committed misconduct during your arrest.
The consequences of a conviction for child abuse are severe, often going far beyond the court room. Your reputation could be left in tatters. Punishments could follow you for years to come. Getting the charge against you reduced or dismissed is key to protecting your future.
If you or someone you love was charged with child abuse, contact a Los Angeles violent crime defense attorney at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP. We can begin preparing your defense immediately and will use our decades of experience to advocate on your behalf. We provide free, confidential, initial consultations for every client. Call us today at (213) 688-0460.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.