Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Hello,Child abuse in the 4th degree is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison:
A person is guilty of child abuse in the fourth degree if any of the following apply:(a) The person's omission or reckless act causes physical harm to a child.(b) The person knowingly or intentionally commits an act that under the circumstances poses an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to a child, regardless of whether physical harm results.(8) Child abuse in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year.
In order to find your husband guilty of this offense, the state would have to prove the elements of the offense I have just listed beyond a reasonable doubt. As you can see, no actual injury need have happened for a conviction. And while this does not look like the world's strongest case for the state, he should not try handling this himself. The involvement of CPS on the non-criminal front makes representation ASAP particularly important. You can see the entire Child Abuse statute here, as it defines the terms used in the statute.
Hello, thanks for the answer. Would you say there is more of a possibility he would or wouldnt be charged with this misdemeanor? We have no idea whats going to happen in court or how we should plead...
In answer to your original question, now that you have some background, on his first court date your husband should plead NOT GUILTY when asked. That's the only plea that keeps a defendant's rights all open to him. Then, if he has an attorney, his lawyer can take it from there. If he doesn't he can ask the judge for an adjournment to hire himself a criminal lawyer. Or, if he hasn't the funds to do that, he can ask the judge to appoint him a free lawyer.
we have completely clean record. does this seem serious enough to get jail time?
i figure you've seen cases like this, what is the usual outcome in something of this nature
cps is coming over tomorrow and i'm freaking out :(
Understood. That's why I said to get a lawyer ASAP.
I'm working on the rest of your questions, which I have just about finished answering, but I need the time to type it out. Didn't want you to think I was ignoring you. I know you've got to be scared.
thank you for your help. i appreciate any assistance with this. i dont think we can afford a lawyer. would i have to wait until the court date to ask for one from the state or should i be looking into that from now
Your husband will be charged with this misdemeanor. It doesn't take much to bring a charge. It just requires probable cause. Probable cause is only a reasonable belief that something unlawful MAY HAVE happened and that your husband MAY HAVE been responsible for it. So, there's enough evidence to file the case in court.From there, in order to convict him, they'd need a great deal more evidence. They would have to prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. I think they might have trouble doing that.
If you can't afford a lawyer and need to have a public defender represent your husband, the court has to appoint one. Public defenders must be ordered by a judge to take a case. So you can't arrange for a free lawyer before the court date.
well thats not good news! he's afraid to have jail time for this. sigh*
If this is your husband's first offense, I don't think he will have to be worried about jail time. More likely, the state will want him to take some parenting classes so that he finds more appropriate ways of dealing with your child's tantrum.
ok thank you for your advice. do u think we would have to pay for those classes or they are through the state
and do u think the 500 pd to get him from jail will be given back or i should consider it gone forever?
oops, your last answer popped up again
Now that bail has been posted and he's out of jail, as long as he makes his required court appearances and does what the court tells him he should do, whatever that is, he will be able to fight this case while at liberty.The classes would be part of a plea bargain offer if he wanted one. It's possible that the state would bargain this down to something other than a child abuse offense and classes would be part of that package. Or, he could decide to fight the case and go to trial. If he took a plea involving classes as part of the sentence, the state would pick the program and there would probably be a fee for the program that he would have to pay.
The $500 bail will be returned to the surety (you, if you posted it) at the conclusion of the case unless he skips town and warrants, which I'm sure he's not going to do.
Well thank you, XXXXX XXXXX been a great help. just one final reply i have...do u think this will be more than one court date over time? and do u think cps will keep checkin in on us?
There will be more than one court date. If he fights the case, he'll see a judge approximately once a month, and a trial could take a long time to come about -- he could have to keep turning up for a year. If he wants to resolve the case with some kind of offer, he could probably dispose of it in 3 or 4 dates. He won't even have a lawyer until the second date, and he should not consider any offer until he's spoken to a lawyer.
oh geez, 3 or 4 dates! This is going to break his heart, he loves her so much. This is so ridiculous :( Thanks for everything!
have a good night
As far as CPS is concerned, they will visit and likely see that there's no reason for them to believe that your child was being abused. It's very tough to deal with a tantrum, especially in public, where you're apt to be seen as wrong no matter what you do. But if there's nothing to indicate that this sort of behavior occurs on a regular basis, and your husband was simply at his wit's end, CPS may not take any action that you would have to worry about and may see the incident for what it is.
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thank you Fran!
I'm not really sure b/c we were both so shocked. The judge said something about bail was $500 and that the $500 we already posted when he went to jail would take care of that so no more $ was necessary. I dont know if the prosecutor is attempting to put him in jail or if he is trying to up the charge so the judge wouldnt dismiss the case altogether. Do you have any ideas on why this might have happened?
In any case this charge is obviously much more serious and we are really frightened. The judge said that the court appointed attorney might not be able to meet with us until the moment of the next court date, so we are looking into paying for services. Obviously it is now necessary to get an attorney.
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