Child Abuse/Endangerment


Child Abuse/Endangerment (PC 273 (d)/PC 273 (a)):

Penal Code 273(d) is known as “Corporal Injury on a Child,” or more commonly known as “Child Abuse.” There is also PC 273 (a), known as Child Endangerment, which differs from Child Abuse (where there must be physical harm done to the child). To be convicted under PC 273 (d) Child Abuse, the prosecutor must prove that you willfully (on purpose) inflicted upon a child cruel or unusual (physical) punishment, with an injury resulting in a traumatic condition.

Child endangerment is considered a domestic violence offense and to be convicted under PC 273 (a) Child Endangerment, a prosecutor must show several factors: the defendant was criminally negligent, he/she did not act reasonably in disciplining a child, there were conditions present that could likely produce great bodily harm, and that the defendant intentionally inflicted cruel or unusual punishment while the child was in his/her custody. For example, if a woman who in care of her infant allows her boyfriend to stay in her home and during his stay finds unusual bruises and injuries on her child, this woman can be prosecuted under child endangerment for she willingly allowed the child to be in this situation by allowing her boyfriend to stay in the same home.

Penalties (PC 273 (d)/PC 273 (a)):

If convicted of 273 (d) Child Abuse, the prosecutor will decide whether to treat your case as either a misdemeanor or felony violation. If convicted of misdemeanor 273 (d), you may face up to a year in county jail, fines around $5,000, probation for 3 years, successful completion of a child abuser treatment program, and/or there will be a protective order to protect the child from future harm.

If convicted of 273 (d) Child Abuse, felony, you may face up to 6 years in California State Prison, up to $6,000 in fines, formal probation for a minimum of 3 years, all the terms and conditions of a misdemeanor conviction, and additional years in state prison if convicted of the same offense in a ten year period.

To be convicted of a misdemeanor under PC 273 (a) Child Endangerment, the defendant can be sentenced up to 6 months in county jail, court fines, and parenting classes. Treated as a “wobbler,” if the child endangerment involved great bodily harm or death, the prosecutor will likely charge you with a felony. If charged as a felony, the defendant can be sentenced up to 4 years in prison. If the child suffers a death due to your actions, the prosecutor may file serious manslaughter or murder charges.

Legal Defenses (PC 273 (d)/PC 273 (a)):

If you are charged with child abuse- whether it be physical, emotional, or sexual- our defense team can devise a sound strategy to help cast doubt on the prosecution’s case against you. Child abuse laws aim to protect children and defending yourself against a child abuse/child endangerment charge could be quite difficult, especially if there is testimony by the child involved. While parents are generally given leniency on how to raise their own, there are limits as to what parents can and cannot do. It is also quite common for ‘false accusations’ to be brought by one parent against the other, especially in child custody disputes between parents.