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Is it Against the Law to Spank Your Child in Texas?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Collin County crimes against children defense attorney

There is a significant amount of controversy surrounding corporal punishment in the United States. Some parents feel that spanking their children is an effective form of discipline, while others avoid any form of physical punishment. Data shows that the percentage of parents using corporal punishment is slowly declining. According to a study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, approximately 37 percent of children under 18 were spanked by a parent or guardian in 2014. It is important for any parent choosing to employ corporal punishment to understand when spanking or other physical punishments may break the law and be considered crimes against children.

Understanding Texas Law Regarding Bodily Injury to a Child

It can be hard to know exactly when the physical punishment of a child crosses the line into abuse. According to Texas law, hitting a child could constitute “assault bodily injury family violence” or “injury to a child” depending on the circumstances. The Texas Penal Code states that an individual commits injury to a child if he or she intentionally or recklessly causes bodily or mental injury to a child under 15 years of age. Assault with a bodily injury of a family member occurs when a person knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causes pain, injury, illness, or impairment to a family member. Striking a child does fit these definitions; however, it is very unlikely that a parent or guardian would be convicted of these crimes for spanking alone.

Spanking Is Not Illegal in Texas if it Is “Reasonable”

While spanking a child may technically meet the definition of bodily harm in some cases, there is an exception to this rule called the Reasonable Discipline Defense. Section 9.61 of the Texas Penal Code states that any non-deadly use of force against a child under 18 years old is justified if the parent or guardian “reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline a child or to safeguard or promote his or her welfare.” Texas laws regarding corporal punishment are quite vague. If you are facing criminal charges related to alleged child abuse, it is vital that you speak with a criminal defense lawyer familiar with these laws.

Contact a Plano, Texas Child Abuse Lawyer

Any crimes against children are taken seriously in the state of Texas. Therefore, it is important to know what constitutes child abuse in the event you or someone you know is charged with such a crime. For sound legal guidance from a highly qualified Collin County criminal defense attorney, contact The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. Attorney Darlina Crowder has successfully secured more than 250 acquittals and not guilty verdicts for her clients in the past. Schedule a free, completely confidential consultation to discuss your case by calling us at 214-303-9600 today.



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