Child abuse, which includes sexual exploitation and neglect along with physical and emotional abuse, is a very serious crime in any state, and Georgia is no exception to this rule. Allegations of child abuse are very difficult to fight and can be incredibly damaging to your reputation. If you have been accused of cruelty to children, your liberty and your reputation are at state. You will need a criminal defense attorney with years of experience on your side in order to fight these serious charges.
Accusations of cruelty to children can be hard to fight but being accused does not mean you are automatically guilty. Children get injured frequently, and it isn't always the result of malice or negligence on the parents' end - accidents do happen. False allegations of child abuse can happen as well, especially in situations where family relationships are strained, such as a child custody battle.Degrees of Child Cruelty
Georgia law divides the charge of cruelty to children into three different degrees, as described below:
- First Degree Cruelty to Children: A person commits the crime of first-degree cruelty to children when they are a) a parent, guardian, or a person supervising the welfare of a child under the age of 18, and b) endanger the well-being of a child by depriving them of things they need to live or maliciously cause a child cruel and excessive physical or mental pain. First-degree child cruelty is considered a felony in Georgia and is punishable by no less than 5 and up to 20 years in prison.
- Second Degree Cruelty to Children: A person commits second-degree cruelty to children when their criminal negligence causes a child to suffer serious physical or mental pain. For example, if someone knows their partner is abusing their children but does not report it, they would be found guilty of cruelty to children in the second degree. Second degree child cruelty is also considered a felony and is punishable by a minimum of 1 and up to 10 years in prison.
- Third Degree Cruelty to Children: A person commits third-degree cruelty to children when they are the primary aggressor in a forcible felony, battery, or family violence batter and intentionally allow a child to witness or hear this act. Cruelty to children in the third degree is considered a misdemeanor on the first or second conviction; any subsequent convictions will be treated as a felony. Penalties for third-degree child cruelty include a fine ranging from $1,000.00 to $5,000.00 and between 1 and 3 years in prison.
Under Georgia law, you are allowed to physically discipline your children and cannot be found guilty of child cruelty just by, for example, spanking your child. However, the physical discipline must be reasonable and cannot cause bodily injury. If the court finds that your physical discipline of your children violated these requirements, then you could find yourself charged with child cruelty. Note that there is no hard and fast rule regarding what kind of physical discipline is considered reasonable - this is completely up to the court's discretion.Our Legal Team can Help
If you have been accused of cruelty to children, now is not the time to go it alone. You will need a criminal defense lawyer with years of experience navigating the often complex and sensitive nature of child cruelty cases. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team today and find out how our team of experienced attorneys can help you with your cruelty to children charges.