Families can get locked in patterns of violence and abuse, particularly when substance abuse is part of the mix. When this happens, children in the family suffer. The law prohibiting child abuse by injury is one law meant to protect children in these situations. The crime is a felony in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
The law is aimed in particular at those who enable child abuse to occur. Oklahoma is a state that prosecutes the enabler to the same extent as it does the perpetrator.
Understanding Child Abuse Laws
It is important to understand how the law defines and handles child abuse in Tahlequah in order to understand the law regarding child abuse by injury. Oklahoma law defines child abuse 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. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 843.5
The law covers a lot of ground. It prohibits abuse in all forms: physical, mental, and emotional.
Permitting child abuse means to authorize or allow for the care of a child by an individual when the person authorizing or allowing that care knows or reasonably should know that the child will be placed at risk of abuse. This means allowing or causing harm or the threat of willful harm to a child.
Think about a household in crisis where violence occurs. A mother or father who turns a blind eye to the harm being done to a child may be charged with child abuse by injury under this statute. This may happen when one parent loses control of their anger, when spanking gets out of hand, or when a parent shakes a baby to stop it from crying. If the other parent knows or reasonably should know about the harm, both parents can be charged.
Elements Of The Crime
Like all crimes in Oklahoma, permitting child abuse by injury has certain elements. All of the elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. An unproven element means there is no conviction.
These are the elements that must be proven:
- a person responsible for a child’s health, safety, or welfare
- knowingly permitted injury, torture, maiming, or the use of unreasonable force
- upon a child.
Many defenses to the crime arise from an element that is unproven by the prosecution Any fact or piece of evidence that goes toward disproving a required element provides a defense.
Allegations Are False: False allegations are fairly common. This often occurs in couples who are divorcing or have a dysfunctional relationship.
Lack of Knowledge: The caretaker must act knowingly. That means the caretaker either knows or reasonably should know the child will be injured.
Caretaker Was Acting Within Their Right: Spanking is allowed in Oklahoma, but child abuse is not. Ordinary force in spanking is a defense. However, spanking may not leave bruises or other marks.
Accident: Accidents giving rise to child injury can and do happen. However, courts are often loathe to release a parent from liability when a child is injured. Discuss this, and all other defenses, with an experienced Tahlequah attorney.
Penalties For Permitting Child Abuse By Injury
Child abuse by injury is a felony in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The crime is punishable by a year in jail to life in prison, 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.
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 child abuse by injury in Oklahoma.
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.