My Neighbors Called the Police Because I Spanked My Child. Did I Do Something Wrong?
For perhaps most of human history, spanking has been a discipline most parents have used with their children. As recently as thirty years ago, few people thought twice about manually spanking and even using instruments like belts or switches. But norms about child discipline have changed dramatically in recent years and many people now have strong feelings about whether certain types of physical discipline cross the line into abuse. In Texas and many other parts of the United States, this can lead to phone calls to the police for behaviors that can surprise the parent on the receiving end of abuse accusations. Some of these calls even result in criminal charges.
Texas has strict laws in place to protect children from domestic violence, endangerment, sexual assault, and other forms of child abuse. Because of this, it is useful to know when spanking may be considered child abuse in Texas, as well as the potential penalties for physically abusing a child. If you have been charged with abusing a child, even if you are confident that you are innocent, get legal help right away.
When Does Discipline Become Child Abuse?
All parents must discipline their children, but in Texas, the force a parent uses to discipline must be reasonable. Reasonable can be somewhat subject to interpretation, but the general idea is that if other reasonable people would find the discipline to be excessive, the discipline can be considered child abuse even if the parent disagrees.
So where is the line? Generally speaking, spanking or other physical discipline methods that result in physical marks, illness, or physical impairment could result in criminal charges. While a parent can use non-lethal force when they punish their child, the parent must believe the force they use is necessary to discipline the child. This can be somewhat subjective, causing problems for parents who use corporal punishment but do not want to run afoul of the law.
What Are the Penalties for Physically Abusing a Child?
Most Texas assault cases are misdemeanors, but when the victim is a child, perpetrators can face felony charges and prosecutors are often willing to push for maximum charges because a child is seen as unable to protect themselves. Penalties for a first-degree felony can include two to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Furthermore, being criminally investigated or charged with assaulting a child can give ammunition to a divorced parent who is seeking to take away the other parent’s ability to spend time with their child.
Call a Plano, TX Child Abuse Defense Attorney Today
Even if you feel completely justified when spanking your child, charges and even just accusations of child abuse are serious matters and should not be taken lightly. If you are facing criminal charges of child abuse, get help from a Collin County, TX child abuse defense attorney with The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. right away. We will aggressively defend your rights and do our best to get your charges reduced or dropped entirely. Call us day or night at214-303-9600.