Under both state and federal law, children are afforded great legal protection against those who commit wrongful acts against them. In cases where a wrongdoer’s actions are taken against a child either maliciously or negligently, the criminal penalties imposed for such conduct are typically severe.
In addition to facing harsh penalties, having a child cruelty conviction on a criminal record can gravely impact an individual’s ability to obtain work, financial assistance, and housing opportunities. For more information on how this type of charge or conviction could affect you or your loved one, call to discuss your case with a qualified McDonough child cruelty lawyer. Our domestic violence attorneys could review your case and explain what you should expect.
Where some states refer to the criminal offense as “child endangerment,” Georgia instead refers to the crime as “cruelty to children,” which is established as criminally punishable under the . Under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-70(a), a parent, guardian, or any other person who has a child in their charge or custody commits an offense of cruelty to children when they jeopardize the child’s wellbeing or health by depriving them of “necessary sustenance”. An offense of cruelty to children may be committed in the first, second, or third degree.
Under O.C.G.A. § 16-5-70(b), first-degree cruelty to children is committed if the individual maliciously (i.e. intentionally) causes a minor child to suffer “cruel or excessive physical or mental pain.” Cruelty to children is executed in the second degree if the physical or mental pain caused is done so out of criminal negligence. Finally, cruelty to children is committed in the third degree when a person intentionally allows a minor child to witness a forcible felony or the battery of another; or knows that a minor child can hear or see such acts, and yet proceeds with committing the aforementioned act(s). A lawyer in McDonough could help someone prepare a defense depending on the specifics of their child cruelty charges.
The criminal penalties an alleged offender could face for cruelty to children vary on a case-by-case basis depending on the degree of severity of the offense. As is the case with any criminal offense, a first-degree offense of cruelty to children carries the strictest penalties. Under state law, those guilty of committing cruelty to children in the first degree could face a prison sentence between five to twenty years. For second degree cruelty to children, the sentence is reduced to at least one year, but not more than ten years. Third degree cruelty to children is punished as a misdemeanor for the first and second conviction, but subsequent convictions will be felonies with a sentence of one to three years. A McDonough attorney with experience handling child cruelty cases could assist an alleged offender in determining the extent of the criminal penalties they could face and whether such penalties could effectively be reduced in their child cruelty case.
Having a cruelty to children conviction on your criminal record can have devasting consequences which affect several aspects of your life. While there is a wide range of conduct that constitutes cruelty to children under state law, some acts may be considered a less severe offense than others, resulting in the reduced severity of the imposed penalties.
If you or someone close to you was recently charged or convicted of committing an offense of cruelty to children, you could have a viable legal argument in defense of your case. For assistance with developing and arguing the defense of your case, get in contact with a McDonough child cruelty lawyer.