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CHILD ABUSE / NEGLECT

CHILD ABUSE / NEGLECT

Many good parents and child guardians can get caught up in a child abuse investigation simply for disciplining their children. Law enforcement officers are trained to identify marks on a child resulting from a swat on the buttocks as evidence of child abuse. Often, parents are shocked to find they are the target of a criminal investigation.

If you are the target of an investigation for suspected child abuse, contact a criminal defense attorney before you make any statement to law enforcement or the Pennsylvania Children and Youth Services (CYS) investigator.

West Chester Child Abuse Attorney

If you have been charged with, or are currently being investigated for, child abuse or endangering a child in West Chester, PA, Michael J. Skinner of the Skinner Law Firm will hear your side of the story and make every effort to fight the allegations against you. Contact the Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your alleged domestic violence today.


Endangering Welfare of a Child under Pennsylvania Law

Endangering the welfare of children or a child, which is more commonly known as child abuse, is prohibited under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4304(a). Under subsection one, a parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under the age of 18 can be charged with this offense if they knowingly endanger the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support.

Under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4304(a)(2), an individual can be charged with this offense if they prevent or interfere with the making of a report of suspected child abuse while in an official capacity.


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Elements of a Conviction for Endangering a Child

A defendant can be found guilty of this offense under § 4304(a)(1) if the judge or jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant violated a duty of care, protection or support;
  • The defendant endangered the child knowingly;
  • The defendant was a parent, guardian, person supervising the welfare of the child under the age of 18, or a person supervising a person entrusted to supervise the welfare of a child; and
  • The child was under the age 18 at the time of the offense.

A defendant can be found guilty of this offense under § 4304(a)(2) if the judge or jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The defendant was in an official capacity with respect to the child;
  • The defendant prevented or interfered with the making of a report for suspicion of child abuse; and
  • The defendant acted in an intentional, knowing or reckless manner.

A person is in an official capacity if he comes into contact with a child during the course of his employment, occupation, practice or profession.

Intentional is defined under Pennsylvania law as to purposefully cause a specific result.

Reckless is defined under Pennsylvania law as acting with conscious disregard to the substantial and unjustifiable risks that will result from the conduct.

Knowing is defined in Pennsylvania as being aware with practical certainty an individual’s actions will cause a particular result.


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Mandatory Reports of Child Abuse under Pennsylvania Law

Pennsylvania law requires certain professionals to report any suspicions of child abuse under 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6311. Mandated reporters include, but are not limited to:

  • Day Care Workers,
  • School Teachers,
  • Physicians,
  • Nurses,
  • Medical Examiners,
  • Optometrists,
  • Social Services Workers, and
  • Coroners.

After the report of suspected child abuse is made, Pennsylvania law requires the Children and Youth Services (CYS) to investigate the allegations. Child abuse allegations can include discipline imposed by the parent if it leaves any kind of mark on the child other than a swat mark on the buttocks.


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Penalties for Child Abuse in Pennsylvania

A person found guilty of endangering or abusing a child can be penalized with a misdemeanor of the first degree, which can result in up to five years in prison and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000.

If the individual is convicted of engaging in a course of conduct that endangers the child, they can be penalized with a felony of the third degree, which can result in a prison sentence up to seven years and/or a fine up to $15,000.


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Finding an Experienced Child Neglect Lawyer in Pennsylvania

If you have been arrested and charged with endangering a child, contact the Skinner Law Firm today for a free consultation about your alleged family violence offense. Michael J. Skinner is an experienced lawyer for domestic violence in West Chester who will make every effort to help you avoid the most serious penalties and repercussions to the allegations against you. Call (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your alleged child abuse offense in Chester or Delaware County.

Michael Skinner
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