When a family is locked in a pattern of abuse and violence, too often the children in the family suffer. This is especially true when substance abuse is also involved. While child abuse can happen in a number of different ways, child abuse by injury is almost always a function of violence. Under Oklahoma law, permitting child abuse by injury is a crime equal to that of actually abusing a child.
Every member of a family locked in this pattern of violence and abuse needs help. Here are some things you may want to know about how permitting child abuse by injury is handled in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Child Abuse Defined
In Oklahoma, child abuse is legally defined as the willful or malicious threat of or actual harm to a child or the failure to protect a child from real or threatened harm to their health, safety, or welfare. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 843.5
This statute covers a lot of ground. It prohibits various types of harm, including all kinds of physical, mental and emotional abuse. This statute also prohibits willfully or maliciously causing major trauma to a child. This can include injuring, torturing, or maiming a child.
Permitting Child Abuse
Often times when a family is locked in a cycle of violence, a parent may turn a blind eye to the other parent’s injurious behavior to a child in the family. Violence becomes the norm. But in Oklahoma, turning a blind eye or allowing any abuse by another to a child in your care is treated severely.
Oklahoma law punishes both the perpetrator and the enabler equally. Permitting child abuse is causing, procuring, or permitting any willful or malicious act or the threat of harm to a child. It includes the failure to protect a child from harm.
If you know or reasonably should know that a child will be placed at risk for abuse, you cannot allow the interaction between the adult and child. To do so makes you as guilty of abuse as the perpetrator.
Elements of Permitting Child Abuse by Injury
Permitting child abuse by injury has certain elements that must be proven by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt. Defenses to the crime lie in facts and evidence that tend to disprove elements of the crime.
These are the elements that must be proven:
- a person responsible for a child’s health, safety, or welfare
- knowingly permitted injury, torture, maiming, or the use of unreasonable force
- upon a child.
Note that the elements include any use of unreasonable force. This includes moving beyond spanking to beating that leaves marks or causes other injury to a child.
There are defenses available to you. A person must act knowingly. That means that the caretaker either knows or reasonably should know that the child will be injured. While a reasonable standard is somewhat subjective, the prosecution will use circumstantial evidence to know that you knew or should have known that you were putting a child at risk.
If violence has not been present in the relationship before, there may be evidence that you did not know or could not have reasonably known that you were putting your child at risk. This defense is more difficult in families where patterns of violence have become embedded. Even if a parent has not injured the child before, if he or she has injured others, the prosecution will attempt to show that you should have known it was likely the parent would eventually injure the child.
Penalties for Permitting Child Abuse by Injury
Permitting child abuse by injury is a felony in Oklahoma. The crime is punishable by anywhere from one year in county jail to life imprisonment, a fine between $500 and $5,000, or both.
The court has broad discretion in sentencing. If the abuse is sexual and the child is under 12, the crime is punishable by 25 years to life in prison.
Get help when you need it most. An experienced attorney can help you, help your child, and help your family get the help you need.
Free Consultation: Muskogee Criminal Defense Attorney
Are you facing criminal charges and need help? Get the help you need to protect your freedom today. Talk to a criminal defense attorney in Muskogee, OK.
Our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys pride themselves on providing you the best possible legal defense at reasonable rates.
Call 918-913-0725 today for an initial free consultation. You can also submit the question form at the top right of this page.