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Understanding California’s Child Abuse Laws

Being accused of child abuse can be a major blow to a defendant’s reputation on top of the hefty penalties he or she may face. These cases should be handled with great care to ensure defendants receive fair and unbiased trials. Unfortunately, bail for these cases are often high, forcing defendants to remain in jail during their trials and making it difficult for them to prepare strong defenses.

If you or a loved one needs bail posted for a child abuse charge in San Diego, Riverside, or Orange County, do not hesitate to contact Balboa Bail Bonds. We provide fast and affordable bail to defendants in our communities. Each of our agents has at least five years of experience in the industries and can act fast to get your loved one released. Call us today at (619) 760-2222 to speak to a knowledgeable bail bond agent.

How Courts Evaluate Child Abuse Accusations

Child abuse is defined under California Penal Code 273(d) PC as the act of causing a “cruel,” “inhumane,” or “traumatic” corporal injury to a child. A corporal injury refers to physical harm, as opposed to emotional abuse, and this can differ from disciplining a child. When evaluating these cases, a court will need to determine if the defendant’s actions were considered “cruel or inhumane,” meaning they were unjustified in harming the child. The court must also consider if the defendant acted willfully, meaning it does not apply to accidents that cause a child’s injuries, although it can still result in a child endangerment charge.

Child abuse is treated as a wobbler in California, but it is often charged as a felony when a defendant is accused of causing a visible, traumatic, or permanent injury. Prior convictions of child abuse can also lead to felony charges.

Overlap With Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence charges specifically refer to when a defendant injures a current or former:

  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Girlfriend
  • Boyfriend
  • Intimate partner

While it is not possible to face a domestic violence charge for being accused of child abuse, prior domestic violence charges can impact a defendant’s case. A prosecutor may look at a defendant’s criminal record and evaluate any domestic violence charges in the past five years as evidence in a current child abuse case. If the domestic violence charge involved an injury to the child’s other parent, then it can play a major role in a current child abuse charge.

Penalties for Child Abuse

Child abuse is either a misdemeanor or felony in California. With a misdemeanor, a defendant may face up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $6,000, and informal probation. For felonies, however, a defendant may be sentenced to:

  • Up to two, four, or six years in state prison;
  • An additional four year enhancement for prior convictions;
  • A maximum fine of up to $6,000;
  • At least one year of child abuser’s treatment counseling; and/or
  • Mandatory 36 months formal probation.

In both cases, a defendant may be subject to a restraining order.

Posting Bail After an Arrest

As with most violent crimes, bail is mandatory for child abuse charges and will be determined by a county’s bail schedule. A county may choose to follow California’s bail schedule or enact its own requirements for bail. In San Diego County, bail for child abuse is $20,000 for a misdemeanor and $50,000 for a felony. For Riverside and Orange County, it will be set at $50,000 for felonies, while misdemeanors may be set at $5,000.

With a charge as serious as child abuse, it is important for defendants to get bail posted fast to ensure they can work closely with an attorney on their defense. If your loved one was charged with child abuse, then you need to speak to a bail bond agent at Balboa Bail Bonds. We have years of experience posting bail for defendants in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange County. We only charge a flat 10% premium and can work with you to develop a payment plan that works for your situation. Call us today at (619) 760-2222 to get bail today.