California Child Abuse Laws Penal Code 273(d) PC

California Penal Code 273(d) PC punishes the physical act of injury or cruel and unusual punishment on a child…also known as child abuse.

California’s child endangerment law and Penal Code 270 PC - California’s child neglect law, also punishes against sexual abuse, neglect, and emotional abuse of a child. California’s child abuse law, Penal Code 273(d) PC and this artifact deal specifically with physical abuse directed towards a minor. Examples include:

Slapping a child hard enough to leave a mark.

Participating in a physical fight with a minor and leaving bruises on him/her.

Beating a child with a belt discipline him/her.

Failure To Provide Care / Child Neglect Penal Code 270 PC

Failure to provide necessary material care for your child is considered a misdemeanor in California.

The Legal Definition Of Child Neglect In California

Under California law, the legal definition of child abuse revolves around so-called “elements of the crime.” Before you are found guilty of this offense, the prosecutor is supposed to prove these key facts. The elements of the legal definition of child abuse are as follows:

  • You willfully inflicted cruel and unusual punishment to a child
  • The injury or punishment caused the child to suffer traumatic physical injury
  • Your actions towards your child was not reasonable discipline

Parent Of A Child

You are considered the “parent”of a child even if you have never married or are divorced from the custodial parent and do not have any rights to the custody of the child, per California Penal Code 270 PC.

Failure To Provide Necessities

In California’s child neglect law, “Necessities”means:

  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Medical care or other
  • Remedial care

Willfully And Without Lawful Excuse

Willingly Or Purpose Means “Willful”

If through no fault of your own, you are unable to earn enough money to pay for the child’s necessities, you are considered to have a “lawful excuse”for failure to provide care of him or her.

Child abuse in California is subject to harsh punishment, and often times local prosecutors like to “get tough.” Being charged and convicted of child abuse can demolish a family, reputation and freedom. For a moment of weakness in a parent, or a

domestic conflict incident to lead to downright false and unfair accusations of child abuse.

EXAMPLE:Joseph was frustrated with his 2 year-old son, Joseph grabs his arm and twisted it, his act is willful, since at the moment he grabbed the child he could know that the conduct could physically harm his son. In this scenario, Joseph could be guilty of child abuse.

Cruel Or Inhuman Punishment

The statute established the crime of child abuse as willfully inflicted cruel and unusual punishment to a child. The cruel or inhuman punishment is defined as disposed to inflict pain in a nasty manner or acts without pity, kindness or tenderness. In California, the conduct of punching, shaking a child, hitting, slapping, kicking, pushing, throwing any object at a child, choking or burning a child could lead the someone of a child abuse conviction. Furthermore, in California, the parents have full authority with their children. So, you have a right to discipline and spanking your children, so long as the physical discipline is not reasonable, unnecessary or excessive. If the conduct of physical discipline was by means of discipline and reasonable, you could have a defense on your case.

Traumatic Physical Condition.

In California, traumatic condition is determined as a wound or other serious bodily injury, or minor injury, caused by the direct uses of physical force of the defendant, The courts considered traumatic conditions even if a minor injury occurred, as a cut, blow or other impact, typically one in which the skin is cut or broken, bruise, broken bone, sprain and internal bleedingIn order for someone being convicted of child abuse, the traumatic condition must be the result of the injury committed by the defendant if the traumatic was the consequence of the injury, the injury was direct and substantial cause of the traumatic condition and the traumatic condition would not have happened without the injury.

Child As A Victim

In California, a child is considered any person under the age of eighteen (18) years old. A person is considered one year older after midnight on his/her birthday, after at 12:01 am the day of the birthday.Example: Karen is 17 year-old teenager, one day she came back home drunk and her dad got mad at her. Suddenly, her dad grabbed her arm and leaves visible marks on her arm. In this case, Karen's dad could be guilty of child abuse, since Karen is considered a child for the purpose of this crime.

When the defendant acted, (he/she) was not reasonably disciplining a child. In California Laws, the parents have authority and discretionary power to discipline their children, however, there is a limit for that action. The prosecution must prove that the defendant's action was over the limits of disciplining a child. There are difference between discipline and injure a child. If the parents hurt or physical harm a child, they could be guilty of child abuse. Penalties for child abuse. The offense of child abuse can be charged as either misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant's criminal background. This is called wobbler in California, the prosecution has an option to charge the defendant with either misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not exceeding six thousand dollars ($6,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or misdemeanor probation, or the fine, imprisonment and probation.However, if someone was charged as a felony, the penalties could be aggravated depending on the facts of the case, a felony is punishable by a fine not exceeding six thousand dollars ($6,000) or by imprisonment in county jail not from two (2) years to four (4) years, and a felony probation, or both fine, imprisonment and the probation.

Three Strikes Law

In California there is an aggravate rule that it is called three strikes law, in which the judge has discretion to determine to increase or diminish the conviction depending on the defendant's record. For instance, if a defendant receive a "strike" on his record, by that is convicted with a felony and then after a while he receives another sentence with felony, the judge could give twice of the regular sentence in the conviction. And if the defendant gets three "strikes", he or she might give a 25 years of imprisonment in a California State prison.

If through no fault of your own, you are unable to earn enough money to pay for the child’s necessities, you are considered to have a “lawful excuse”for failure to provide care of him or her.

Child abuse in California is subject to harsh punishment, and often times local prosecutors like to “get tough.” Being charged and convicted of child abuse can demolish a family, reputation and freedom. For a moment of weakness in a parent, or a

domestic conflict incident to lead to downright false and unfair accusations of child abuse.


Penal Code 273(d) PC is a “wobbler.” Depending on the facts of your specific case and your criminal history you may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.

For a misdemeanor child abuse conviction the maximum jail sentence is one (1) year. However, if convicted of felony child abuse, it is two (2), four (4) or six (6) years. If you have a prior conviction for this offense, then jail time may exceed six (6) years.

1.1 Prior Acts of Child Abuse or Domestic Violence May Be Used Against You

Evidence Of Other Acts Of Child Abuse

California law has long held that the court must omit evidence in connection to prior criminal offenses or misconduct from your current criminal case.

This rule is in effect so the jury does not convict you unfairly based on unrelated prior offenses. This evidence is believed to be overly “prejudicial”and is not permitted.

Under Penal Code 273d PC California’s child abuse law has an exception to this rule. In a child abuse prosecution, prior acts of corporal injury or punishment to a child are admissible against you. Not just that, but it is not even necessary that these acts result in prior convictions.

This means that, the judge may permit the prosecutor to present prior allegations of child abuse that you engaged in, even if these allegations we acquitted or dismissed. The prior accusations do not have to involve the same circumstances, same alleged victim, or have similarities to the current pending case; other than the fact you were suspected of child abuse.

Luckily, the judge will conduct a hearing to consider if the prosecutor is allowed this type of evidence.

  • Whether the presented evidence will unduly prejudice the jury
  • Whether there is any valid evidence for the earlier allegations
  • The amount of elapsed time between current pending charges and prior allegations

If you are accused or arrested for a second time for child abuse, it is very important to hire an aggressive California child abuse defense attorney who will represent you at this hearing. Your defense attorney should know effective arguments to persuade the court that the “prior alleged acts”is constitutionally unfair and must be excluded from the current pending case.

The prosecutor is also not permitted to present evidence of prior child abuse allegations if the prior act of child abuse occurred ten (10) years before the current pending case; unless the judge determines that it is in the best interest of justice to permit the evidence.

In certain cases, the prosecutor may be allowed to present evidence of previous criminal acts of California domestic violence in a trial for Penal Code 273d PC child abuse. The prosecutor is able to present previous domestic violence allegations or convictions if the following is true:

  • The current allegation is that you have committed child abuse against:
  • Your child
  • Any child who lives with you on a regular basis
  • Any child who has lived with you on a regular basis
  • You were convicted or accused of domestic violence which includes violence against a person you were dating, parent of your child, live-in girlfriend or boyfriend or a spouse etc., for acts that have taken place within the past five (5) years. AND
  • The judge will hold a hearing to admit the evidence and will determine if it is appropriate.

So much for innocent until proven guilty…Melody The California Evidence Code allows any acts of domestic violence as tending to show your “propensity”towards violence in general.

EXAMPLE: Melody is being prosecuted under Penal Code 272d PC for allegedly hitting her boyfriend’s son, who lives with her and her boyfriend. Melody was arrested (but not charged) for throwing an iron at her ex-husband 4 years ago. Six years ago, Melody was convicted of California domestic battery for punching him.

The prosecutor has asked for a hearing to see if the conviction and arrest of the prior offenses are able to be permitted in Melody’s current child abuse case. The judge believes there is corroborating evidence for the prior arrest and conviction and they will not unduly prejudice the jury.

The prosecutor is now able to tell the jury about Melody’s prior conviction which will help prove that she has “propensity for violence.”

Even if the evidence of previous acts of child abuse or domestic violence does get admitted to court, it is important to know that the jury is informed that the previous acts of violence or abuse is not adequate to prove that you are guilty in the current proceedings. The previous evidence is simply additional information to consider when deliberating on the case.

Penalties For Penal Code 273(D) Child Abuse

Under Penal Code 273d PC child abuse is considered a “wobbler”in California law. Depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense and your criminal history the prosecutor may choose to charge it as a felony or misdemeanor.

Legal Definition Of A “Wobbler” In California Law

“Wobbler”is frequently used with regard to penalties, punishment and sentencing associated with California crimes.

California law defines”wobbler”as offense prosecutors can elect to file as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on your criminal history and the specific facts of the case.

Why Classification As A Wobbler Is Important

When you are convicted of a felony there are certain rights and privileges that are revoked. As long as your offense remains a misdemeanor, you will be able to preserve some of these rights (the right to own or possess firearms under Penal Code 29800 PC California’s felon with a firearm law).

In the unfortunate event, you are charged with a felony wobbler, you can later petition to have your felony conviction reduced to a misdemeanor. There is no relief for “straight felonies.” Those felonies are not classified as wobblers.

If you have been charged with a wobbler, our team of experienced California criminal defense attorneys know the best effective arguments for persuading judges and prosecutors to minimize the potential penalties by charging you with a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Legal Definition Of A “Felony” In California Law

Unlawful acts are placed into three different categories by California law, felonies, misdemeanors, and infractions. Felonies are considered the most serious.

In some cases, a felony conviction can be punished by death. A felony is an offense with a maximum sentence (whether in state prison or in county jail) of more then one (1) year.

In California if you get convicted of a felony you may be ordered to pay fines up to $10,000 in addition to or instead of imprisonment.

People convicted of felonies may be alternatively sentenced to California formal (felony) probation. If felony probation is granted, you will serve —at most, one (1) year in county jail.

California felony convictions come with serious collateral consequences. These include, among others, disclosure of the conviction if asked on a job application and for 10 years you may not own a gun in California.

In our law firm we have former prosecutors and cops. We have seen it in first hand what affect a felony conviction has on someone’s life.

Straight Felonies

This is a felony that can only be charged and sentenced as a felony. A straight felony cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Punishment For Felony Offenses

Felonies are usually punished by imprisonment. Your imprisonment will be classified as a low term, middle term or high term.

Most of the time you will receive a middle term imprisonment unless there are factors in mitigation or aggravation of the California felony crime.

You can be sentenced to a high term imprisonment if there are aggravated factors such as “the crime involved extreme violence”or you “used a weapon.”

The judge might decide the low term is more appropriate if there are mitigating factors such as your participation in the crime was minimal.

Many criminal statues set forth all three possible terms. They also state whether the imprisonment be served in county jail or California State prison.

Collateral Consequences Of A California Felony Conviction

There are numerous collateral consequences that a California felony conviction carries.

These are some of the important ones:

  • If asked you must disclose your felony conviction on job applications
  • You may not possess or own a gun sometimes for 10 years and other times for life
  • If the felony was a sex crime, you will be required to register as a California sex offender under Megan’s Law
  • Under California’s “three strike law” your offense may count as a strike

Expunging A California Felony

It may be possible to get your California felony expunged, as long as you were not sentenced to California State prison, convicted of certain sex offenses or any violent crimes.

Your civil rights don’t end once you have been convicted of a felony in California. We have skilled attorneys that know several ways to help you be relieved of the stigma and restrictions that come with a California felony conviction.

What Is A Misdemeanor In California Law

By definition, a misdemeanor is, a less serious offense than a felony. In California there are three (3) types of crimes depending on the severity:

  • Felony is the most serious and is punishable by imprisonment for a number of years in California State prison.
  • Misdemeanors are punishable only by local county jail time for no longer one (1) year.
  • Infractions are referred to as moving violations, parking tickets, and traffic tickets.

Aggravated Misdemeanors

Some misdemeanor offenses may entail a more serious punishment, also know as, “gross misdemeanors”or “aggravated misdemeanors.” When this is the circumstance, the county jail sentence could increase up to a maximum and the fine could increase as well.

If convicted of misdemeanor child abuse, the penalties include:

  • Fined up to six thousand dollars ($6,000)
  • Sentence up to one (1) year in jail

If convicted of felony child abuse, the penalties may include:

  • Fined up to six thousand dollars ($6,000)
  • Sentence up to two (2), four (4) or six years in jail

If you have prior child abuse convictions, Penal Code 273a, you sentence will increase by four (4) years in jail; this sentence enhancement will NOT be implemented if:

  • You have completed serving a prison term for a prior conviction more than ten (10) years ago, AND
  • You have not served and jail time for other felony offenses in those ten (10) years.

Probation Conditions

It is common for probation to be imposed in relation with a conviction for corporal punishment causing harm to a child, regardless of whether you are convicted of felony or misdemeanor child abuse. Probation may be your only sentence, or it may be in addition to the listed above penalties.

California Probation Violation Hearings

Violating the conditions of your California misdemeanor probation or felony probation will result in you attending a California probation violation hearing also known as a probation revocation in front of a judge.

At your probation violation hearing the judge may decide to reinstate your probation on the same terms and conditions, change the terms of your probation to make them more stringent, or revoke your probation and send to you to jail depending on the circumstances of your case.

California Probation Law & Conditions

California law, Penal Code 1203 PC defines a type of probation supervisory sentence a judge may enforce either instead of, or in addition to incarceration in state prison or county jail.

You can be granted probation for either California misdemeanor conviction or California felony conviction.

Certain conditions are attached when you are on probation in the state of California. They may include:

  • A mandatory restitution fine
  • Requirement for you to work on public works construction projects
  • Requirement for you to remain gainfully employed
  • Refrained from using drugs and alcohol and/or
  • For certain California sex crimes, a requirement for you to wear an electric monitoring device.

If probation is the sentence you receive for conviction of Penal Code 273d PC, the conditions of probation will most likely include:

  • Minimum probation period of three (3) years
  • Mandatory that you complete one (1) year child abuser’s treatment counseling program
  • Criminal court protective order, and if suitable a residence exclusion and/or stay away order to protect the victim

The Crime Of Violating A Restraining Or Protective Order

(Califronia Penal Code 273.6 PC)

Per Penal Code 273.6 it is a crime to violate the conditions and terms of a California restraining order (referred to as a “protective order”). This occurs when you intentionally ignore the terms of a legal restraining order issued by a judge.


Good news, there is a number of legal defenses that apply to a 273.6 charge. These are:

  • The judge didn’t legally issue the protective order
  • You did not know about the restraining order
  • You didn’t intentionally violate the protective order
  • You were falsely accused of violating the protective order


The penalties vary quite a bit if you are convicted of violating a California restraining order. The penalties very depending on whether it’s your first or subsequent violation and whether the victim suffered physical injury.

Penalties may include, up to one (1) year in a county jail for a misdemeanor and up to three (3) years in a California State prison for a felony. In addition, you may face court fines and penalties. The victim may be granted restitution for any counseling and/or medical services the victim had reasonably incurred in connection with the offense. You could also face counseling services and the relinquishment of any firearms, and the inability to acquire any new ones for the length of the protective order.

If you were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the alleged offense, random drug testing will be included.

If you do not comply with any of the probation requirements, a violation of probation (subjecting you to more jail time), and/or a court-ordered bench warrant.

California Bench Warrant

In California bench warrants (sometimes referred to as “body attachments”) are the most common type of warrants issued. The warrant is issued from “the bench," which means the judge.

A bench warrant isn’t issued based on suspected criminal activity, unlike a California arrest warrant. Bench warrants are typically issued for failing to appear for court, failing to pay a fine and/or failing to obey any other court order.

Doing any of the above is considered “contempt of court”and may subject you to a bench warrant and possibly a probation violation, a California State prison or county jail sentence, enhanced fines and / or a California driver license suspension.

A judge can also issue a bench warrant even if you are indicted by a California grand jury. The judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest if you are not in custody when the indictment is received.

If you contact our criminal attorneys, they can help you better understand when and why bench warrants are issued and how you can clear them.

If you comply with all the terms and conditions of probation for the first year or two, the court may grant early termination of probation.

Early Termination Of Probation In California Criminal Cases

Per California Penal Code 1203.3 PC, a judge is allowed to terminate a defendant’s probation ahead of schedule. The court will often expunge the criminal record if the judge grants an early termination of probation. In felony wobbler cases, the felony will be reduced to a misdemeanor at the same time.

Before the judge terminates your probation early, he will want to make sure you have successfully completed the terms of your probation, (such as fines, classes or restitution) and those are circumstances that justify early termination.

Valid reasons for early termination may include (but are not limited to) the fact your probation is keeping you from securing gainful employment, preventing you from advancing at work or restricting you from necessary travel. Per Penal Code 1203.3 PC, the court has discretion to grant requests for early termination of probation at any time during the probation period. However, most judges want to see the probationer complete at least 12 to 18 months of the probation period before they seriously consider the motion.

2.2 Child Abuse & California's Three Strikes Law

In conjunction with the above penalties, a felony child abuse conviction will result in a “strike”on your record under California’s Three Strikes Law.

California's Three Strikes Law And Proposition 36 Reforms

The California’s “Three strikes and you’re out”law is no game. For years, it was one of the hardest sentencing schemes in the country. This law was sending people convicted of even nonviolent offenses to prison for life.

One out of every four inmates in California’s overcrowded prisons is serving a second or third strike sentence.

What Qualifies As A "Strike" Offense?

California’s three strike law is a sentencing scheme which adds significant time to a prison sentence of certain repeat offenders which have been convicted of serious or violent felonies.

If you are subsequently charged with a felony your sentence will be twice the term and you will be considered a “second striker.”

You will serve a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years to life in California State prison if you accumulate three (3) strikes —“third striker.”

Legal Defense Against Child Abuse Charges

California’s child abuse laws are in effect to protect children, our justice system is configured to defend those who are wrongly accused. Listed below you will find some of the strongest legal defenses against child abuse an experienced California defense attorney may assert against punishment on a child or corporal injury.

Common Legal Defenses To California Crimes

Our criminal defense attorneys represent our clients throughout California. If you or someone you know is being wrongfully accused of a crime, please call us today so we can set you up for a free confidential consultation.

Listed below are some commonly used legal defenses that are applicable to California criminal offenses:

  • Accidents
  • Alibis
  • Double Jeopardy
  • Coerced Confessions
  • Duress
  • Entrapment
  • False Accusations/Wrongful Arrest
  • Insanity
  • Lack of Probable Cause
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Mistake of Facts
  • Necessity
  • Parent’s Right to Discipline
  • Police Misconduct
  • Self-Defense/Defense of Others
  • Unconsciousness
  • Voluntary/Involuntary Intoxication

False Allegations Of Child Abuse

False accusations of child abuse may be the most effective and common defense to California child abuse charges. It is very ordinary for child abuse allegations to arise from domestic conflict or out of family. A family member may accuse you of child abuse depending on their motives. Their motives may include:

  • Revenge
  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Desire to be in control

These actions are typically seen in association with child custody battles. Sometimes this can happen when a child wants to “punish”their parents or their parent’s girlfriend/boyfriend.

An experienced child abuse defense attorney will know the right questions to ask, evidence to collect and investigations to pursue when involving false child abuse allegations.

Injuries Caused By Things Other Than Child Abuse

Kids are kids —they all have accidents. They play contact sports, run, jump, wrestle with each other, fall, bump into things, get into friendly fights with each other. Kids play rough.

In many cases, another person will mistake bruises, cuts, scratches or other injuries for child abuse; and in turn file a complaint with the authorities and that is how you get involved with Penal Code 273d PC child abuse.

This issue is worsened by California’s “Child Abuse & Neglect Reporting Act.” This means that under this law, teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, and school administrators, etc., are by law required to report suspected child abuse. Doctors are considered “mandated reporters”under California’s child abuse mandatory reporting law.

AB 1775 And The Expansion Of California's Child Abuse & Neglect Reporting Act

Under AB 1775 Mandated reporters, including doctors and psychotherapists are now required to report you to law enforcement if you confess to simply viewing as opposed to creating, exchanging, distributing child pornography.

Who are "Mandated Reporters" Under Canra?

A “mandated reporter”is someone who, because of their professional status or job, is required by law to report to law enforcement any situations which they know or reasonably suspect child abuse or neglect including sex crimes against minors.

Mandated reporters under CANRA and AB 1775 include:

  • Teachers
  • School administrators
  • Social workers
  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Medical professionals (doctors, psychologists, nurses) and family therapists

When Do Mandated Reporters Have To Report Someone Under AB 1775?

AB 1775 mandated reporters are required to report to authorities whenever they either know or reasonably suspect someone has downloaded, streamed or accessed any of the following media that depicts an obscene sexual conduct where a child is engaged. These include: films, photographs, videotapes or video recordings, negatives or slides.

A misdemeanor charge and possible jail time if “mandated reporters”do not make a required report. Mandated reporters are under heavy pressure to report any suspicion of child abuse.

Our California criminal defense lawyers work on a frequent basis with medical forensics and physicians who independently evaluate the alleged injuries. After the doctor completes a thorough exam, and if he/she believes you are being unfairly prosecuted based on misleading evidence, he/she will testify.

Parent's Right To Discipline

As mentioned before, parent’s do have the right to physically discipline their child as long as it causes no bodily injury and the discipline is reasonable. “Spanking”your child with your hand or even an object such as a paddle is not considered child abuse under California’s law unless it is:

  • Unreasonable
  • Unnecessary or excessive

You are likely to have the charges be discharged if your California child abuse defense attorney can convince the prosecutor, judge and/or jury that the corporal punishment was reasonable and justifiable means of discipline.

The Injury Was A Result Of An Accident

The legal defense of accident applies to prosecutions under California’s child abuse law. To be convicted under this law, you have to act willfully. As long as the accident did not happen out of aggressive or reckless behavior you can not be convicted of California’s child abuse. Genuine accidents include:

Accident As A Legal Defense In California Criminal Law

“It was an accident; I did not do it on purpose!” When is this legal defense to a crime?

An “accident”means unintentional. These days, the world is full of distracted, busy people and as a result of that people suffer every day. A fender bender, smashing your child’s fingers in the car door, bumping into somebody while walking down the street. Accidentally hitting your spouse, burning your child while cooking, causing a car accident that kills somebody else.

California criminal law excuses your conduct in case of misfortune or an accident. This means that, if you had no criminal intent to cause injury or harm, you were not acting negligently, and you were engaged in lawful acts at the time of the accident then the legal defense of an accident should release you from any criminal liability.

California criminal law says that an individual who causes damage or injury based on an accident or through misfortune have not actually committed a crime. In order to declare “accident”as a legal defense, the burden is on the defendant to prove that she/he acted without culpable negligence or criminal intent.

  • Accidentally pulling your daughters arm out of the socket by swinging her in circles
  • Slamming the front door in anger, not realizing your toddler’s fingers were in the door jam
  • Practicing your softball swing when your son walks behind you without knowledge and you hit him with the bat

If you willfully grabbed your daughter’s arm in anger and you unintentionally pulled her arm out of the socket; the accident would not be considered defense to charges of child abuse.

Penal Code 273D Child Abuse & Related Offenses

There are some California crimes that are in close relation to California Penal Code 273d PC and are oftentimes charges along with or instead of child abuse.

Some of the most common are:

4.1 Penal Code 273A PC Child Endangerment

Child endangerment law under Penal Code 273a PC also deals with deliberate injury to a child. Sometimes this is confusingly referred to as child abuse.

California Child Endargerment Law California Penal Code 273A PC

Child endangerment acts are punished by California Penal Code 273 a PC. Child endangerment occurs when someone causes or permits a child to suffer unjustifiable pain or mental suffering, willfully causes or permits a child in their care to be injured or willfully causes or permits a child to be placed in a dangerous situation.

A child endangerment conviction does not require any child to suffer an actual injury. Therefore, unfortunately it is quite common for innocent people to face prosecution under California child endangerment laws.

Child endangerment can simply be charged if the child if he/she was put in a situation where there was a probability of harm. The biggest difference between child endangerment and child abuse in California law is this; child endangerment —the child does not need to endure any physical harm or injury.

If you were not the person who actually inflicted injury on the child but instead put the child in a position where injury or harm was likely to happen; you may still be charged with child endangerment.

EXAMPLE: Sonia knows that her sister Julia has a substance abuse and violence history, including violence against her own child. She leaves her daughter with

Julia on a day she has no other childcare options but needs to go to work. Julia ends up hitting Sonia’s daughter leaving her with severe bruises and Sonia has to take her daughter to the hospital.

The prosecutor charges Julia with Penal Code 273d PC child abuse for inflicting injury on Sonia’s daughter. The prosecutor also charges Sonia with Penal Code 273a PC child endangerment for willfully putting her daughter where she was likely going to be harmed.

California child endangerment, like child abuse is considered a wobbler. They both carry alike penalties to Penal Code 273a PC child abuse.

4.2 Penal Code 242 PC Battery

Penal Code 242 PC battery is the willful and unwanted use of violence or force aimed towards another person. Battery is known as a “lesser offense”when included in Penal Code 273d PC child abuse. It is impossible to commit the “greater offense”(child abuse, in this case) without also committing the lesser offense of battery.

California Assault & Battery Laws - Penal Code 242 PC

The crime of battery is also known as “simple battery”which means, any unlawful and willful use of force or violence towards someone. For most people, the term “battery” creates images of severe beatings. Under Penal Code 242 PC, you can be found guilty of California battery even if you did not cause the victim any pain or injury. If you have touched him or her in an offensive way, it may be considered battery.

If the battery does result in serious injury, then you could be charged with a related crime of battery causing serious bodily injury, Penal Code 243(d) PC.

California "Assault & Battery"

The phrase is often said as “assault & battery,”but California assault and California battery are two different crimes. Examples of when California battery and when charges may be filed:

A man pushes a woman who just cut in front of her at the market.A woman throws a rock at the person chest who just insulted her.A bar tender spits in a patron’s drink who has been treating him disrespectfully.THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ASSAULT AND BATTERY

In reality, California assault and California battery are completely different offenses. The difference is:

1) Penal Code 240 assault is an action that may cause physical harm or unwanted touching.

2) Penal Code 242 battery is the actual infliction of violence or force on someone else.

Assault does not have to involve any physical contact, but battery does. In a clearer way; assault is like “attempted battery”whereas battery is like “completed assault.”

If the evidence supports the facts that you did in fact intentionally inflict some sort of physical force on a child; but it did not rise to the level of “cruel of inhuman”punishment or result in a “traumatic condition,”the judge will advise the jury. You may be convicted of battery instead. Battery is a misdemeanor and the penalties may include a fine of up to two thousand ($2,000) dollars and/or up to six (6) months in county jail.

4.3 Domestic Violence Crimes

Child abuse is one of several California domestic violence laws that specifically deal with neglect toward people and acts of violence (children or the elderly).

California Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys

Our California domestic violence attorneys will help you fight back.

It’s unlawful to commit an assault, battery and criminal threat against anyone. If the alleged victim is your spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, dating partner or the parent of your child, California domestic violence laws make any allegations more serious.

Most district attorney’s office in California have a special unit dedicated to prosecuting domestic violence cases. The unit will usually proceed with the case even if the victim “retracts”or insists he/she no longer desire prosecution. Most counties enforce jail time for domestic abuse convictions, even if it is a misdemeanor first offense.

Innocent People Get Accused

Innocent people get accused of domestic violence in California all the time.

Most of the times and accuser will make false allegations of domestic violence out of jealousy and anger to have the upper hand in divorce and in legal child custody proceedings.

Most of the time what appears to the police as domestic battery was really an accident, or the arrested person acting in self-defense during a mutual struggle.

Whatever the situation is, our California domestic violence attorney’s know how to investigate the facts and present your side to the court, prosecutor, judge and jury (if case goes to trial).

If you get us involved early, we may be able to present the case to the prosecutors before charges are filed and convince them not to pursue a criminal case at all.

California Domestic Violence Laws

In California domestic violence laws make it illegal to use physical force, to communicate threats of harm against intimate partner. These are the most common domestic violence crimes:

  • Penal Code 273.5 PC Corporal injury to a spouse or Cohabitant
  • Penal Code 243 (e)(1) PC Domestic Battery
  • Penal Code 273d PC Child Abuse
  • Penal Code 273a PC Child Endangerment
  • Penal Code 368 PC Elder Abuse
  • Penal Code 422 PC Criminal Threats

Domestic Violence And Immigration Issues

If you are not a citizen and have been accused of a domestic abuse crime, it is important that you fight the case and refrain from criminal conviction. Domestic violence laws in California are especially serious for immigrants who are not citizens of the United States.

California Domestic Violence Penalties & Sentencing

The sentencing, penalties and punishment for domestic violence crimes under California law varies depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the injuries. The judge typically will require the defendant to complete a one (1) year domestic batterer’s class, and most counties will enforce a jail sentence of at least thirty (30) days —even for first time misdemeanor offenses.

For example, both Penal Code 273.5 PC corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant and Penal Code(e)(1) PC domestic battery penalize acts of violence or force against intimate partners:

Corporal Injury On An Intimate Partner Penal Code 273.5 PC

Willful infliction of corporal injury on an intimate partner is a serious California domestic violence crime. Penal Code 273.5 PC means the crime of corporal injury on an intimate partner —which may be referred to as:

  • Domestic violence
  • Domestic abuse
  • Willful infliction of corporal injury
  • Intentional infliction of corporal injury
  • Spousal abuse.

In order to be considered guilty of intentional/willful infliction of corporal injury you must have willfully caused physical harm to an intimate partner and as a result caused traumatic injury to that individual. An intimate partner is classified as the defendant’s spouse or former spouse, cohabitant or former cohabitant, fiancéor former fiancé, a person whom the defendant has or had a dating relationship or the mother or father of the defendant’s child.

In order for you to be guilty of corporal injury you must be willful and have intention.

You must have willfully inflicted physical injury on an intimate partner and as a result caused “traumatic condition”to that person.

An “intimate partner”is described as:

  • Defendant’s spouse
  • Defendant’s cohabitant or former cohabitant
  • Defendant’s fiancé
  • Person whom the defendant has or used to have a dating relationship
  • Father or mother of the defendant’s child

Penal Code 368 PC California’s elder abuse law states it is a crime to negligently or willfully inflict unreasonable physical pain or mental suffering on an individual who is 65 years of age or older.

We invite you to contact our law center so we can represent you. We will provide you with a free consultation in our office.

California's Elder Abuse Laws Penal Code 368 PC

Per Penal Code 368 PC California’s elder abuse statue,“elder abuse”can be any of the following and it is directed at anyone who is sixty-five (65) years of age or older:

  • Infliction of inexcusable pain or injury on a senior victim (physical abuse).
  • Emotional abuse (most of the time seen in the form of mental suffering through ridicule or isolation).
  • Endangerment and neglect (willfully placing the dependent or elder adult in a known situation where her/his safety and health is endangered).
  • Senior fraud and elder abuse also known as financial exploitation.


Under Penal Code 368 it’s the prosecutor’s choice and also depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the facts of the case to determine if the case will be either prosecuted as felony or a misdemeanor.

If the case is prosecuted as a felony the defendant may be looking at two (2) to four (4) years in state prison. If the case is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, potential penalties include up to one (1) year in county jail and could also be fined thousands of dollars.

Legal Defense

A child abuse is a wobbler in California Law, meaning that a person could face a felony or a misdemeanor conviction, if a person is convicted with this type of crime, the conviction is going to be on the person's criminal records. If you are looking for a job and the employer does a criminal background check and there is a domestic violence offense register, it is likely that the employer won't hire someone with a misdemeanor or felony background. If you have been charged with this offense, you should promptly look for a Lawyer. San Diego Criminal Attorney has a great deal of success defending our clients and we can help you build legal defenses that it could be use to contest these types of charges. If you would like more information, please contact our successful staff to help you with your legal problems.

To contest the charges of child abuse, San Diego Criminal Attorney would be able to use the following legal defenses:

  • Wrongfully accused.

Under the rules of Californa Law, it is too easy for a victim falsely accuse another of committing this crime, sometimes the cause of action is out of anger, revenge or jealousy. However, San Diego Criminal Attorney know how to protect its clients from wrongfully accusations. If this is your case, contact an attorney promptly.

  • The traumatic condition was not caused by the parent's conduct.

Usually, children they play a lot, jump, run, fall and can get hurt from playing and being a kid. In some cases, you did not commit any conduct that could physically harm your children and you get prosecuted anyways. To defense those types of injustice, San Diego Criminal Attorney has experience in building strong defense for its clients, if that was your case, please contact your team and we can help you to diminish your charges or even dismiss the case.

  • Right to discipline

In California, as explained above, the parents have full authority with their children. So, you have a right to discipline and spanking your kid, so long as the physical discipline is not reasonable, unnecessary or excessive. If the conduct of physical discipline was by means of discipline and reasonable, you could have a defense on your case.

  • The injury was an accident

Sometimes, the child's physical harm is caused out of an accident, in which the parents did not intentionally harmed the child, as burning your child while cooking, or slamming the door on the child's face. If the parents had no criminal intent to cause injury or harm to your child and the actions were not negligent, you could be excuse of child abuse, if the defense could prove that the defendant did not act with negligent or criminal intent.