Felony child abuse is a term used to describe a felony in which an adult intentionally causes bodily damage to a kid under the age of majority. This type of injury is typically classified as severe, and it is frequently considered to be potentially life-threatening. In most cases, the factors that distinguish felony child abuse from misdemeanor child abuse are the nature of the abuse and the extent of the damage done.
The majority of felony child abuse cases are of a physical type. Therefore, emotional abuse alone does not constitute a criminal offense unless physical hurt is involved in the situation. If a child is placed in danger due to neglect, as is when a youngster is left in a hot automobile unsupervised or when a child is underfed or malnourished, this may be deemed felony child abuse.
The offender must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have placed a minor kid in imminent danger of death or to have caused harm capable of becoming life-threatening or of inflicting long-term ramifications for the child for the case to be tried as a felony.
Sexual assault is an example of abuse that is not typically life-threatening but is generally prosecuted as a felony since the victim suffers lifelong psychological harm. The sentence for felony child abuse varies widely and can last from a few years to several decades, depending on the circumstances.
It is nearly always required for a prosecutor to obtain the testimony of a child victim to secure a conviction in a felony child abuse prosecution. Many abusers, particularly sexual predators, have many victims throughout their lives. A child abuse lawsuit can be difficult to win if there is no sworn testimony from someone who has been personally abused by the perpetrator or who has observed such abuse. When a kid is unable or unwilling to testify, the testimony of doctors who examined the youngster or other witnesses may be sufficient to win the case.
Felony of the third degree (Class D)
While the state’s criminal code provides for broad definitions of felony child abuse, North Carolina law also specifies particular activities deemed child abuse and the punishments for engaging in such behavior. If you carry out any of the following acts, you may be charged with a Class D felony :
Inflict any significant physical injury on the child to cause severe physical damage, or knowingly carry out an assault on a child that results in serious bodily injury
Commit, permit, or encourage the commission of a prostitute act with a minor.
conduct or permit the commission of a sexual act on a minor
Felony in the second degree (Class B2)
If you cause serious bodily injury to a kid, you may be subject to more severe sanctions. The intentional infliction of severe physical damage on a child and the deliberate perpetration of assault on a child can lead to felony charges of Class B2. The following consequences can ensue from such an assault:
the infliction of significant physical injury
loss or impairment of any mental or emotional function that lasts for an extended period
Felonies in Classes E and G
If your purposeful act or grossly negligent omission while in the care of a child under the age of 16 demonstrates a reckless disrespect for human life, and that act or omission results in serious bodily injury to the child, you may be charged with a Class E felony under the federal Child Welfare Act. This includes instances in which you neglect to report a child who has gone missing as required by law. It is possible to be prosecuted with a Class G felony if your act or omission resulted in significant physical injury to another person.
Penalties for Abuse of Children
The nature of the specific offense determines the severity of the criminal consequences for felony child abuse. In North Carolina, general criminal child abuse is classified as a Class D misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for child abuse include a variety of various punishments, such as:
- Baseline felony child abuse is a Class D felony that can result in up to 204 months in prison if convicted.
- Committing, permitting, or inciting a child to engage in prostitution is a Class D crime that can result in up to 204 months in prison if convicted.
- Premeditated activities that result in significant bodily injury are classified as a Class B2 felony and can result in up to 484 months in prison.
- Acts of willful misconduct or gross carelessness resulting in significant bodily injury are punishable by up to 88 months in prison for a Class E felony.
- Severe bodily injury caused by willful or gross carelessness is punishable by up to 47 months in prison under a Class G felony.
- The punishment for misdemeanor child abuse under North Carolina General Statute 14-318.2 is 150 days in jail.
- In addition to the possibility of jail, a conviction for child abuse can result in various other punishments and ramifications. You may also be charged with additional offenses linked to your situation. You may also lose your right to see or spend time with your children if you do not follow the rules. Those found guilty of sexually abusing a minor may be required to register as a sex offenders with the appropriate authorities.
Defenses to Child Abuse Charges
Given the severe consequences of a felony child abuse conviction, it’s critical to do everything in your power to prevent being convicted. Adults who have been accused of felony child abuse have a few options for defending themselves.
Although children should be protected from intentional injury, they occasionally sustain unintentional injuries that appear to be the consequence of abuse. If the child has suffered a bodily injury, demonstrating how it occurred by chance can help to prove that no abuse has taken place. Providing evidence that an adult did not intend to intentionally hurt a kid may also result in a lower charge being levied against them.
A child abuse claim may also arise due to a disagreement between the kid’s parents, mainly if they are in the process of divorcing. If this is the case, a criminal defense attorney can assist the accused adult in gathering information that doubts the credibility of the claims leveled against them.
Law enforcement must receive it legally to use evidence obtained in a child abuse case in a criminal prosecution case. If law enforcement unlawfully gets evidence, a skilled criminal defense attorney can contest the seizure of that evidence.
Children who have been the victims of abuse may require counseling to come to terms with concerns such as abandonment, lack of trust, and fear of being harmed in the future. The psychological condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is widespread among abuse victims, particularly those involved in violent crimes.
It is common to practice to remove them from the harsh circumstances and place them with relatives or another family who can provide adequate care for them. Depression, suicidal thoughts or impulses, difficulty to build strong connections, feelings of worthlessness, and resentment against the perpetrator are all possible long-term consequences of child abuse for the victim and their family. With the assistance of a qualified therapist, these concerns can be resolved successfully.