Being a parent means having to provide certain necessities for a child. Since a child is vulnerable, they rely on their parents to care for them. These necessities are as basic as clothing, food, and a home. If a child’s parent, or parents, fail to provide these, then they have failed to provide proper care. Thus, the parents may face a child neglect charge as defined under California Penal Code Section 270.
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Child neglect is a crime according to California Penal Code Section 270. The crime is the willful omission, or without lawful excuse, of proper necessities to a child by a parent.
These basic necessities include: clothing, food, shelter, and/or medical attendance or any other type of remedial care for the minor child. This can include the abandonment or the desertion of a child by their parent.
According to the language of California laws, child neglect can be thought simply as a parent who willfully fails to provide the provide the proper care to their child. Of course, these two elements of child neglect cases can be further defined to help understand why you may be faced with this offense.
A child neglect offense usually applies to the parents of the child. However, this can also include other type of relationships, such as: adoptive parents, legal guardians, an absent parent, or a parent who has not even made contact with their child. Even parents who did not marry one another may still face a child neglect charge. Under California Law, since these individuals can be thought of as the “parents” of the child, they must also provide the proper care needed in raising them.
The second, and most crucial element, of child neglect cases is the failure to provide proper care to the child. As defined under California Penal Code Section 270, a child neglect charge may arise from a failure to provide adequate clothing, food, shelter, medical attendance, or another type of remedial care (such as help from a recognized religion). As a parent, these are the basic necessities that need to be provided to a child under the eyes of the law. A failure to provide these will lead to a child neglect charge.
Marc and Candace’s daughter has come down with the flu. Despite the severity of the illness, the couple refuse to seek medical attention for their daughter. Both parents may be charged with child neglect.
Maria’s husband does not have food at home for his step-daughter and does not attempt buy any for her. Even though he not the biological father, he is still responsible for the child care and can be charged with child neglect.
Once again, you can be charged with child neglect if you have willfully, or without lawful excuse, failed, as a parent, to provide the proper care and necessities to your child. This is a serious offense in the state of California.
Child neglect is a major crime under California Law and may lead to severe penalties and punishment. Since it’s considered to be a “wobbler” case, child neglect may either be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Each has its own set of penalties which is determined by the defendant’s criminal history and the details of the case.
If convicted as a misdemeanor, the defendant faces: misdemeanor probation, maximum one (1) year in county jail, and/or a maximum $2,000 fine.
If convicted as a felony, the punishments become more severe. The penalties include: maximum sentence of one (1) year in county jail, a maximum one (1) year in a California state prison, and/or a maximum fine of $2,000. However, it is important to note that a felony child neglect charge is quite rare. The most common instance in which it would occur would be if the father of the child had lost a paternity suit in the past and had previously been convicted of a child neglect charge.
As with any other type of case, there are certain elements that must be presented in order to be convicted at the hands of the law. As defined under California Penal Code Section 270, child neglect is the willful, and without lawful excuse, failure to provide the proper necessities to a child by a parent. The penal code clearly outlines the necessary elements of the offense that needs to be shown to get a conviction in the court of law. These criteria include: you are the “parent” of the victim child, you failed to provide certain necessities to the victim child, and you did so willfully or without lawful excuse. These areas need to be proven in a child neglect offense:
A child neglect offense applies to the parents of the victim child. However, it is important to note that in California there is a broad legal definition that can be applied to being a “parent.” Of course, being a parent does mean being the biological mother and father of the child. Yet, there are more relationships that can be applied in these cases.
You may still be considered a parent to the child if you have legal custody of the child. This can include an adoptive parent, a legal guardian, or a step-parent to the child. In these relationships, you are still required to provide the proper care and necessities to the child under California Law.
Besides being biologically related to the child, a father is still considered to be a parent even if the child was a result of artificial insemination, and the father consented to the procedure in writing. A husband may still be considered the parent to the child, even if it is not his. However, if a paternity suit is brought forward within two (2) years of the child’s birth and it proves that the husband is not the father, then he cannot be liable in a child neglect case.
Even if you do not have custodial rights over the child, you may still be considered a liable parent. This can mean that even if the defendant has never met the child before, or has not met the child since his/her birth, they are still liable as a parent. The defendant does not necessarily need to be married to the mother of the child, or even in a relationship with the mother to still be liable.
If you do not have any of the above relationships with the victim child, then you are not liable as a parent. Thus, as defined under California law, you cannot be charged with child neglect.
Again, written out in California Penal Code Section 270, a child neglect charge arises when a parent fails to provide the proper care and necessities to their child. The basic necessities a parent needs to provide include: clothing, food, shelter, or medical attention when necessary.
Even if you do not believe in seeking help from medical professional, you need to have sought attention from any other type of remedial care. This can be made to mean help from a recognized religious institution or denomination. A “prayer-based” treatment can be seen as a way of seeking remedial help under California Law.
If you do not seek medical attention for a seriously ill child, then this can be seen as a form of child endangerment and child neglect.
Another crucial area that needs to be shown and proven in a child neglect case is the willful failure to provide the proper necessities to a minor child. Child neglect, as written in California Penal Code Section (PC) 270, specifically mentions that the parent must have willfully, and without lawful excuse, failed to provide the proper care to their child. This means that the court must prove that the defendant deliberately neglected to provide the proper necessities.
If you chose to spend all the money you had on frivolous items instead of the proper necessities for you child, this is an example of willfully failing to provide the proper care to your child. Another example is if you are not actively looking for a job and lack the resources to properly provide for your child.
By utilizing a good defense, a child neglect charge may be dropped. A good defense is one that can disprove a necessary element in any case. For a child neglect case, commonly used defenses include: you are not a parent to the child, you did not act willfully, you lacked the money to provide the proper care, or you were lawfully excused from receiving medical attendance.
If you can prove that you do not have a relationship with the victim child that is considered to be a parent, then you can’t be charged with child neglect. This means that you were not responsible for providing for the child.
Sometimes it is a challenge for parents to adequately provide for their child. In certain situations, a parent may unintentionally fail to provide the proper necessities. For example, if you were unable to afford a proper shelter, but actively searched for a job or help, you cannot be charged. Also, if you didn’t realize your child needed medical attention, you may not be faced with this charge.
Again, if you were not able to afford to adequately provide the proper necessities to your child, then you cannot be charged with child neglect as this can be a “lawful excuse.” Sometimes, a parent can fall on hard times, such as losing a job, becoming too ill to work, or you could only afford to provide some of the proper necessities. However, you must prove an active search to find the means to properly provide care to your child.
In some cases, different charges may be filed instead of, or in conjunction with, a child neglect charge. Related charges can include, but are not limited to: child endangerment, child abuse, child abduction, and deprivation of custody. Each type of offense relies on certain criteria in order to be charged.
As defined under California Penal Code Section 273a, child endangerment is referred to as willfully allowing, or allowing to cause, a child to be placed in situations that may present a danger to the child’s physical health.
In California, it is still a severe crime to allow your child to be left in situations that may cause physical harm. As such, with a child endangerment charge there does not need to be actual bodily harm to the child. This can be seen as a type of child neglect since the parent has failed to properly ensure the child’s safety.
Child endangerment Is a “wobbler” case in California, and may be convicted as a misdemeanor or a felony. The penalty in these cases can either be up to one (1) year in county jail or up to six (6) years in California state prison.
As defined under California Penal Code Section 273d, a child abuse offense applies to anyone who willfully inflicts any cruel form of corporal punishment or injury resulting in a serious, traumatic condition. This offense occurs when there is real, physical harm done to a child.
Under California Law, child abuse is a serious crime. Once again, this considered a “wobbler” crime in California. If convicted of as a misdemeanor, a defendant faces up to one (1) year imprisonment in jail, and/or a maximum $6,000 fine. If convicted as a felony, the penalties increase to: up to two (2), four (4), or six (6) years in California state prison (plus four more years if previously convicted of a felony charge), a maximum fine of $6,000, or both.
California Penal Code Section 278 describes child abduction as the act of maliciously taking, enticing away, withholding, or concealing of a child by a person who does not have legal custody of that child.
Child abduction is a “wobbler” case in the state of California. As a misdemeanor, the defendant potentially faces the following penalties: up to one (1) year of imprisonment in jail, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. If charged as a felony, the defendant potentially faces: sixteen (16) months, two (2), or three (3) years in state prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.
Deprivation of custody is similar, but different from a standard child abduction offense. As defined under California Penal Code Section 278.5, this offense refers to a parent without custodial rights who maliciously takes, entices away, withholds, or conceals a child from a parent who does has custody. This can also refer to instances in which the custodial parent interferes in the visitation by a non-custodial parent by concealing or withholding the child.
This is also considered a “wobbler” crime in California. As a misdemeanor, a defendant may potentially face the following: maximum of one (1) year in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine, or both. If convicted as a felony, a defendant faces: eighteen (18), or two (2), or three (3) years in state prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both. Also, the court may order the defendant to reimburse the costs associated with locating the stolen child.