Fighting Child Abuse Charges in Lexington, SC
South Carolina Code § 63-7-20 – Child Abuse & Neglect
According to South Carolina § 63-7-20, child abuse or neglect can occur under a number of different circumstances. Generally speaking, however, a parent or guardian could face criminal charges if they have inflicted physical or mental injury upon their child, allowed another person to inflict physical or emotional injury upon their child or engaged in omissions that present a substantial risk of injury to the child. While this may seem fairly cut and dry, many people are unsure of how corporal punishment factors into the child abuse laws in South Carolina. Injuries that can be attributed to excessive corporal punishment would qualify as child abuse, but the line is a lot less clear when physical discipline:
- Is administered by the parents or person in loco parentis ("in place of the parents")
- Is administered for the sole purpose of correcting or restraining the child
- Is administered in a reasonable manner and to a moderate degree
- Is administered such that is does not cause permanent or lasting injury to the child
- Is administered in a manner that is not reckless or grossly negligent
Other Circumstances that Would Qualify as Child Abuse
Under the law, child abuse extends beyond the scope of physical abuse. It can also include any instance in which a parent or guardian has engaged in sexual conduct with the child, or knowingly allowed someone else to do so, abandoned the child for an unreasonable duration of time, encouraged or condoned the commission of delinquent acts by the child or failed to supply the child with basic necessities—which can include food, shelter, clothing, supervision, education as required by law or medical care. It can be difficult to establish that a parent has intentionally and recklessly deprived their child of "minimal" necessities, however, as it must be shown that they had blatantly disregarded their child's well-being.
How are cases of child abuse handled in Lexington, SC?
If someone alleges that you have abused or neglected your child, you will most likely be placed under investigation. Unless there is a reasonable amount of evidence to support these accusations at the time that a report is filed, it is unlikely that law enforcement will take immediate action. If they have reason to believe that your child is in immediate danger, however, they would have the right to take emergency protective custody of the allegedly abused child—regardless of whether or not you have provided consent. It is also true that they would have the right to take custody of any other children in your home if they believe that they too could be at risk of abuse.
Within 24 hours of taking custody of your child, however, law enforcement must conduct a preliminary investigation and risk assessment—which will ultimately determine whether or not your child will be returned to your control. If they have reason to believe that the child has, in fact, been abused or neglected, they will find appropriate accommodations for them until your case has been resolved. They may then follow up by arresting and charging you with criminal domestic violence (CDV), which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a $5,000 fine for a first-time, misdemeanor offense. If you have been charged with felony child abuse, you could be facing much stiffer penalties.
Facing domestic violence charges? Call today for a free consultation.
If you or someone you love has been accused of child abuse, it is imperative that you take action quickly. A single allegation could be enough to irreparably damage your reputation, so there is no reason why you should wait any longer to retain the aggressive defense that you will need. As dedicated members of the South Carolina Association for Justice and the American Association for Justice, our Lexington criminal attorneys can help you fight for the fair treatment that you deserve.
Crimes against children are often prosecuted with particular severity in South Carolina, but our firm can ensure that your case is managed fairly and objectively. All you need to do is call our firm today to get started. When you call our office at (888) 301-6004 or submit a case evaluation form online, your initial consultation won't cost you a thing. That being said, you have nothing to lose by finding out if the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC can help you.
Call today to learn more!