A Former Prosecutor Defending Clients in Wyoming and South Dakota

Crossing the Line Between Parental Discipline and Wyoming Child Abuse Allegations

Allegations of child abuse are scary.

Sometimes the allegations stem from dysfunctional families or parents engaged in a divorce or custody battle. Other times allegations of abuse come after a caregiver sought medical treatment for an injured child.

Whatever the root cause, defending yourself against Wyoming child abuse allegations can be difficult. This is especially true given the negative depiction of child abuse offenders in the media, and the stigma that comes with being accused of abusing a child.

Children occupy a special place in the legal system because they are not able to care for themselves or make their own choices. As a result, courts take allegations of child abuse seriously. If you are facing Wyoming child abuse allegations you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help build a sound strategy to defend you and vindicate you against allegations of child abuse.  

Some Forms of Discipline Are Illegal

As a parent you are given wide latitude in how you choose to discipline your child. This could include restricting a child’s privileges, sending a child to his or her room, or spanking a child.

Some parents believe that spanking is a necessary form of discipline, while others believe that spanking is a form of child abuse.

Of course, there are certain forms of punishment that are clearly illegal, such as acts of violence, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, neglect, and torture.

Defenses to Wyoming Child Abuse Allegations

Allegations of Child Abuse Are False

One defense to Wyoming child abuse allegations is to simply claim that you did not do it.

Unfortunately, false accusations of child abuse are not uncommon, especially in cases of divorce where parents are fighting for custody.

In many cases, the best defense to Wyoming child abuse allegations is to claim that you did not do the act in question, show that the accuser is lying, or expose similar wrongful conduct on the part of the accuser.

Injuries Were the Result of an Accident

Sometimes parents find themselves under suspicion of child abuse when they take a sick or injured child to a hospital for medical treatment. While hospitals are legally required to investigate and report suspected cases of child abuse, sometimes hospital staff can go too far.

A child’s injuries could be the result of normal childhood activities such as falling when climbing a tree, tripping and skinning a knee or even breaking a bone, or a fight between two children on the playground.

Injuries Due to Medical Conditions

Other times, a child’s injuries are caused by a medical condition. For example, “brittle bone disease” has been raised as a defense to show that a child was not abused, but rather that the child was predisposed to broken bones because of a condition that cause the child’s bones to break easily.

Right to Discipline

A parent has the right to discipline their children as they see fit, as long as the discipline does not cross the line into abuse. However, the line between discipline and abuse can get blurred. In analysing Wyoming child abuse allegations courts will consider whether the parent’s acts were reasonable under the circumstances. The court will consider factors such as:

  • The age of the child
  • The extent of harm suffered by the child
  • The child’s mental or physical infirmities, if any
  • The severity of the parent’s actions
  • Socio-cultural factors  

Religious Beliefs

In some cases, parents can claim religious exemption as a defense to Wyoming child abuse allegations. In cases like this parents may claim that a sincere religious belief required them to use faith-based healing practices in place of medical treatment.

Neglect As Child Abuse

Accidentally harming a child is not usually considered child abuse; however, an accident is not the same as a careless or negligent action.

Leaving a young child at home alone can be child abuse if the child is too young to adequately care for him- or her-self. Likewise leaving a small child alone in a hot car is neglectful and can give rise to charges of child abuse. Failing to provide regular medical or dental care, or adequate food and shelter can also lead to allegations of child neglect.   

Penalties for a Wyoming Child Abuse Conviction

Child abuse in Wyoming occurs when a person responsible for a child’s welfare intentionally or recklessly inflicts upon the child physical or mental injury, torture, or cruel confinement. Child abuse is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Aggravated child abuse occurs if, during the abusive act or acts, the child sustains serious bodily, or mental or emotional injury. Aggravated child abuse is also a felony and is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

If You’re Facing Wyoming Child Abuse Allegations Hire the Experienced Criminal Defense Professionals at Just Criminal Law

If you or someone you care about is facing Wyoming child abuse allegations, hire a skilled and experienced team of criminal defense professionals as quickly as possible.

The team of criminal defense professionals at Just Criminal Law has extensive experience defending people accused of child abuse, and is here to protect your one shot at justice..

Contact Christina L. Williams and Just Criminal Law by calling 307-686-6556, emailing inquiry@justcriminallaw.com, or complete our online form.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.

Categories: Child Abuse Charges

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