We want to protect our children. Thus, Oklahoma, like all states, has laws in place to protect children from child abuse and to prosecute suspected defendants. But unlike some crimes, Oklahoma child abuse allegations can be prevalent in a number of domestic situations between troubled spouses — especially divorcing spouses.
When emotions run high, sometimes unsubstantiated allegations follow. As a result, we must be careful to make sure that the innocent don’t get caught up in false allegations. Here is what you need to know about child abuse and how it is handled in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Child Abuse Defined
Oklahoma child abuse is defined as the willful or malicious threatened or actual harm to a child or the failure to protect a child from real or threatened harm to their health, safety, or welfare.
The statute is broad and can cover a lot of different kinds of harm to a child. That harm can be physical, mental, or emotional. It can include neglect and it can include willfully or maliciously injuring, torturing, or maiming a child. The harm is willful or malicious — meaning, it is not accidental.
What The Crime Looks Like
Specifics under the statute include:
Neglect: The failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care, supervision, or other necessities of life. Neglect often occurs when parents abuse alcohol or other substances. A child may then have inadequate daily care such as clean clothes, adequate nutrition, or medical care. Neglect is often associated with a child’s failure to thrive.
Physical Abuse: The non-accidental physical injury of a child. This can be striking a child with hands or an object. It could be spanking that moves beyond typical spanking and leaves marks. This could be shaking an infant or young child.
Sexual Abuse: All sexual activity with a child including the propositioning of a child to engage in sexual contact. It also includes allowing another person to sexually abuse a child in your care.
Mental Or Emotional Abuse: Emotional injury to a child sustained through continued rejection, criticism, isolation, or exploitation. Mental or emotional abuse is linked to a child’s increased depression and suicidal ideation in later years.
Caretakers And Enablers: Caretakers of children are prohibited from abusing, neglecting, committing any sexual abuse against, or exploiting a child. The law treats a caretaker who enables child abuse in the same way as the actual perpetrator. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 843.5
Thus, a mother or father who turns a blind eye to the abuse perpetrated by the other parent may be charged with child abuse by injury under this statute. Both parents may be prosecuted.
Is Spanking Allowed?
Spanking is allowed in Oklahoma. A parent may use “ordinary force” in the punishment of a child, such as spanking, switching, or paddling. Spanking becomes a crime when a person moves beyond “ordinary” force. If that force leaves marks such as welts or bruising, a parent could be charged. Okla. Stat. tit. 10a § 1-1-105
Child abuse by injury is a felony in Tahlequah.
The crime is punishable by anywhere from one year in the county jail to life imprisonment, a fine between $500 and $5,000, or both. If the abuse is sexual and the child is under 12, the crime is punishable by 25 years to life in prison. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 843.5
If you are facing charges, you will need the help of an experienced Tahlequah attorney to build a strong defense. Get the help you need today.
Free Consultation: Tahlequah Criminal Defense Lawyer
Please contact a Tahlequah criminal defense lawyer to discuss your available legal options if you’ve been charged with Oklahoma child abuse.
For a free consultation, call Wirth Law Office – Tahlequah at 918-458-2677 or toll free at 1-888-447-7262.
Or, if you prefer e-mail, you may enter a legal question in the form at the top right of this page and we’ll contact you by e-mail as soon as possible.