Any act of violence against a child is considered child abuse under Pennsylvania law. Additionally, specific Laws pertaining to child abuse include but are not limited to:
- § 4301 Bigamy
- § 4302 Incest
- § 4304 Endangering the welfare of children
- § 6312 Sexual abuse of children
- § 6320 Sexual exploitation of children
Additionally, the PA Family Support Alliance describes the following scenarios that constitute child abuse:
- “Causing bodily injury through any recent act or failure to act”
- “Fabricating, feigning or intentionally exaggerating or inducing a medical symptom or disease which results in a potentially harmful medical evaluation or treatment to the child through any recent act”
- “Causing or substantially contributing to serious mental injury to a child through any act or failure to act or a series of such acts or failures to act”
- “Causing sexual abuse or exploitation of a child through any act or failure to act; Creating a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to a child through any recent act or failure to act”
- “Creating a likelihood of sexual abuse or exploitation of a child through any recent act or failure to act”
- “Causing serious physical neglect of a child”
- “Causing the death of the child through any act or failure to act”
- “Engaging the child in a severe form of trafficking in persons or sex trafficking, as those terms are defined under section 102 of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000”
It's important to understand that an act against a child doesn't have to be intentional to be punishable. If the accused acted in a way that was reckless or negligent, they could still face a conviction of child abuse. Further, child abuse can occur as a result of a failure to act.
When violence occurs against a child, the severity of the crime is often increased. For example, assault may generally be charged as a less severe third-degree misdemeanor. However, when a child under the age of six is assaulted by an individual over the age of 18, the charge can be raised to the level of aggravated assault, considered to be a first-degree misdemeanor.
When is Child Abuse Considered Domestic Violence?
Child abuse is not always considered domestic violence. For an act of violence or neglect against a child to be considered domestic violence, the relationship between the accused and the child must be domestic in nature pursuant to 23 Pa. C.S. § 6102. This statute further defines the kind of abuse that would constitute domestic violence as:
- Knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally injuring, raping, or sexually assaulting the victim
- Causing “reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury”
- Falsely imprisoning the victim
- “Physically or sexually abusing minor children”
- “Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person…which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury”
Any accusation of child abuse is serious, and the additional consequences that come with the added component of domestic violence will create a mountain of legal problems for you if you're accused. If you or someone you love is accused of child abuse and domestic violence, you need to contact a PA criminal defense attorney immediately.
How Can a Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Accusation Affect My Future?
Most who commit an act of child abuse and domestic violence didn't intend to inflict the harm they caused. In domestic situations, emotions often run high, and unfortunately, people lose control of their tempers. Other times, individuals may have mental health issues or substance abuse issues that make it hard for them to act rationally. Whatever your situation is, if you've been accused, you deserve a chance to build a better future for yourself and your loved ones going forward.
When you're arrested for any crime, information pertaining to the arrest and subsequent court proceedings goes on your PA criminal record. A criminal record can make it difficult to secure housing or employment for years to come. Even when charges are later dropped, you may still have a criminal record that could impact your future opportunities.
If you're convicted of sexual abuse against a child, you will have to register as a sex offender. Such designation will prevent you from residing in areas near children, and you'll be required to keep detailed information relating to your address, physical appearance, description of your offenses, vehicle license plates, and so forth, all online.
In addition to the restrictions discussed above, those accused of domestic violence may also be subject to court orders preventing them from having contact with the victims. This could mean you have to move out of your house and entirely uproot your life. You could also lose custody of your children and be required to pay child support.
Many find it difficult to understand the long-lasting and far-reaching consequences a domestic abuse accusation involving a child can have. This is especially true considering most individuals accused of these acts didn't mean to cause the harm that occurred.
Defending Against Accusations of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse
It's not uncommon for those accused of domestic violence to be wrongly charged. Bitter arguments between those involved in a domestic relationship can escalate. Sometimes the police are called, and before you know it, you've been arrested for something that didn't happen the way your accuser said it did. Unfortunately, when this situation occurs, you may still have to fight to clear your name.
It's hard to overstate how much is at stake when you're accused of domestic violence, especially when child abuse is part of the allegation. You deserve every chance to defend yourself.
Call a PA Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Criminal Defense Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm know how complicated and serious an accusation of child abuse in a domestic disturbance situation is, but he and his dedicated team are here for you. To learn how the Lento Law Firm can help you regain control of your future after a criminal charge of child abuse, call 888-535-3686 right away.