Have you been arrested for child neglect in Los Angeles? Contact The Rodriguez Law Group for immediate legal assistance. Our attorneys know that your future and family are at risk. If convicted, you’ll face 12 months behind bars and have a permanent mark on your criminal record. This can adversely affect your ability to work and take proper care of your family.
You have the right to defend yourself, and our Los Angeles child neglect defense attorneys can help. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
Child Neglect in Los Angeles – California Penal Code 270 PC
Child neglect, as defined in California Penal Code 270 PC, occurs when a “parent of a minor child willfully omits, without lawful excuse, to furnish necessary clothing, food, shelter or medical attendance, or other remedial care for his or her child.” In other words, child neglect occurs when a parent willingly fails to provide things that are necessary for their child’s health and well-being.
When you are charged with the crime of child neglect the state has the burden of proving that you are guilty. In order to do this, prosecutors must show that you have satisfied all of the elements of the crime. Prosecutors must prove:
- You are the parent of a minor child
- You failed to provide something necessary for your child’s health and wellbeing
- Your actions were willful; and
- You did not have a lawful excuse.
Parent of a Minor Child
Child neglect can only be committed by a “parent of a minor child.” Who qualifies as a parent for the purposes of 270 PC? Generally speaking, anyone who presents themselves as the guardian or caretaker of a child can be considered a “parent” under 270 PC. This includes:
- Biological parents
- Adoptive parents, and
- Family members (e.g., grandparents, aunts, uncles), and
Men may also be considered the parent of a child if their wife gives birth to a child while they are cohabitating. Paternity is presumed when spouses live together. So, a man can be considered the parent of a child even if he does not hold himself out as the child’s father.
In California, a minor is any child under the age of 18. This includes unborn children. Parents have an obligation to provide necessities to that unborn child – including food and medical care.
Child neglect requires a parent to deprive a child of a necessity. A necessity is defined as something that is required. For the purposes of 270 PC, necessities include:
- Medical care, or
- Remedial care.
Parents can face charges for child neglect for failing to provide a necessity at all, or for providing too little of a necessity.
Willful Action Without Lawful Excuse
The state of California understands that times are tough. It can be difficult for parents to provide every single thing a child needs. However, that doesn’t mean that a parent won’t do everything they can to provide the best possible life for their children.
A parent may have a lawful excuse if they do not have the resources to provide for their child. The fact that the parent lacks the necessary resources must be through no fault of their own. Parents may also have a lawful excuse if there are valid religious reasons and the child is not at risk of becoming ill or dying.
Child neglect laws are not intended to punish parents for trying to provide for their families and falling short. Child neglect applies when a parent willfully fails to provide necessities to their child. Willful behavior is done purposefully, intentionally, and deliberately.
Example: A parent works three jobs to provide for her children. Unfortunately, she doesn’t make enough to buy enough food to meet their minimum nutritional needs. The mother will likely not be charged with child neglect because she did not willfully fail to provide food to her children.
Example: A parent is more interested in spending money on alcohol and drugs than on food for his child. The parent could be charged with child neglect because he willfully prevented his child from getting a necessity.
It’s important to note that you don’t necessarily have to have an intent to harm your child. Child neglect simply means that a parent’s willful actions deprived the child of a necessity.
Penalties for Child Neglect
Child neglect can be a misdemeanor or a felony in California. The charge will likely depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Factors that may be relevant include:
- The level of neglect
- The necessity of which your child was deprived
- A demonstrated history of neglect or child endangerment
- The degree of harm suffered by the child, and
- Your criminal record.
The more serious the neglect, the more serious the charge. Repeat offenders are more likely than first-time offenders to face felony charges.
Misdemeanor: As a misdemeanor, child neglect is punishable by:
- up to 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail
- Probation, and/or
- $2,000 in fines.
Felony: As a felony, child neglect is punishable by:
- $2,000 in fines, and
- Up to 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail, or
- 12 months plus one day in a California state prison.
If you and the child’s other parent do not live together, a conviction for child neglect may affect your custody and support arrangements.
Defenses for Child Neglect in Los Angeles
Remember, the state has the burden of proving that you are guilty of child neglect. Just because you’ve been arrested or charged doesn’t mean that you will be convicted. Defending yourself and presenting strong arguments can help you secure the best possible outcome in your case.
Defenses that can help when you are accused of child neglect include:
- False allegations
- Actions were not willful
- You had a lawful excuse, or
- You are the not the child’s parent.
The defenses you assert should help to excuse, justify, or explain your alleged behavior. Your defense strategy can also involve attacking the validity and reliability of state evidence. It’s important to have an experienced attorney design your defense strategy. Contact the Rodriguez Law Group to find out how we can help you with your criminal case for child neglect.
Call Our Los Angeles Child Neglect Attorneys
Are you facing criminal charges for child neglect? If so, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. The state will aggressively pursue criminal charges when it believes that a child has been put in harm’s way. These charges carry very harsh penalties.
At the Rodriguez Law Group, our attorneys have experience both prosecuting and defending criminal cases. This gives us a unique insight into the law. We use our vast experience and knowledge to provide you with the best possible legal representation. Call us today to schedule your free consultation. We’ll review your case, explain what you can expect, and answer any questions you have.