Criminal Charges for Child Abuse

By Noel Shankel
Child abuse is a criminal offense, and those convicted can be imprisoned.

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Anyone convicted of child abuse will face criminal charges, depending on the severity of the harm done to the child. Child abuse comes in different degrees, and involves more than just physical abuse. Certain private and public workers must report any known child abuse.

Abuse

Congress passed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act in 1974.

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The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was passed by Congress in 1974 and defines child abuse as not only physical abuse, but sexual and mental abuse, plus neglect. CAPTA supplies federal funding to states in order to prevent child abuse, and to help child abuse victims.

Penalties

Child abusers in Alaska can be imprisoned for five years.

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Being convicted of child abuse warrants different penalties depending on where you reside. In Alabama, for example, you may spend up to 10 years in prison for a conviction, or up to five years for a conviction in Alaska.

Age

Different states have different definitions of

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Different states have different definitions of "child" in regard to child abuse. In Colorado, for example, a child is anyone under the age of 16. The age cutoff rises to 18 in Alabama.

Reporting

Dentists are required by law to report known child abuse.

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Most public and private officials have a legal obligation to report child abuse if they come in contact with an abused child, or if they have reasonable cause to believe a child has been abused. Public and private officials include police officers, school teachers, medical professionals and clergymen.

Degrees

Child abuse is legally defined in different degrees. In Michigan, for example, when someone willingly causes serious physical or mental harm to a child, it's considered first degree abuse. Second degree child abuse occurs when serious harm is done as a result of a reckless act. Third degree child abuse is when the child is harmed, but not in a serious manner.

About the Author

Based in California, Noel Shankel has been writing and directing since 2002. His work has been published in "Law of Inertia Magazine." Shankel has a Bachelor of Arts in film and writing from San Francisco State University.

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