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Is Spanking Your Child Against the Law?

When children misbehave, parents try their best to correct such behavior—either by teaching them a lesson, sending them on timeout, or even spanking them. However, is spanking your child considered child abuse in California?

According to state law, not necessarily. As long as the spanking is justifiable for disciplinary reasons and isn't excessive, then it is legal.

Justifiable means the following:

  • A reasonable individual would determine the punishment was necessary based on the circumstances of the incident.
  • The spanking method was reasonable.

To be charged with child abuse in California, a person must willfully inflict cruel/inhumane corporal punishment or inflict an injury that leads to a traumatic condition, which is considered a wound or other bodily injury as a result from physical harm.

Child abuse can be either a misdemeanor or felony offense. A misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum one-year county jail sentence and a fine of up to $6,000, while a felony carries a prison term of up to six years and a fine of the same amount.

Not only does a child abuse charge lead to serious penalties but can also result in losing custody of your child. In addition, professions such as teachers and campus personnel, doctors and nurses, law enforcement and firefighters, and social workers have mandatory reporting laws that require such workers to report suspected child abuse. Failure to report the matter is also a criminal offense.

If you have been accused of child abuse in Ventura County, contact Wilfert Law P.C. today at 805-324-6777 and schedule a free consultation.