Under Maryland code 5-705.1, child abuse refers to the physical or mental injury of a child that harms the child’s health and/or wellness, or presents the risk of putting the child’s health/wellness in harm’s way. The code states that the harm can be inflicted by:
- A parent
- A guardian
- A family member
- A household member
- An authoritative figure, based on position
Child abuse not only includes physical and mental harm, but also stems to the sexual abuse of a child. Sexual abuse is defined as any physical contact of a sexual nature. This includes indecent exposure, child grooming, and other acts of sexual nature.
Child Abuse Crimes
A wide variety of crimes fall under the category of child abuse, with varying circumstances, severity, and penalties. Some common crimes that constitute as child abuse may include:
- Threats – In certain states, verbal threats against a child can be considered child abuse. Repeated tormenting or harassment of a child falls under emotional abuse, which is covered under Maryland code 5-705.
- Assault – The physical abuse of a child is punishable by law, and constitutes as child abuse under Maryland law. Even if no injury occurs, a defendant can still be charged with child abuse.
- Sexual abuse crimes – Sex crimes against a child fall under child abuse, but also carry heavy penalties associated with sex crimes against a minor.
- Neglect – Child neglect is defined as not adequately providing a child basic needs, such as clothing, shelter, food ect. This also includes educational, emotional, and safety needs.
- Endangerment – Child endangerment is defined as putting a child in imminent danger as a direct result of your actions. Even if the act was not intentional, you can still be charged with child endangerment.
If you are accused of a child abuse crime in Maryland, it is always best to seek the counsel of a child abuse lawyer. An experienced child abuse lawyer can help you during the trial process, and look into the details of your case to determine the best defense.
Penalties for Child Abuse Crimes
Specific penalties for child abuse will heavily depend on the charges you are accused of, and vary greatly in both jail time and monetary penalties. Examples of these crimes include:
First Degree Child Abuse
First degree child abuse is a felony charge that occurs when a child is abused by a parent, guardian, or authorotative figure over the child. This abuse must have been determined to be cruel/inhumane treatment of the child (or a malicious attack) that results in serious physical injury to the child, and demonstrates a threat to the child’s health or welfare.
The term “serious physical harm” refers to physical injuries like brain trauma, extreme malnutrition, or any other physical harm that causes a substantial risk to the child’s life. The penalties for first degree child abuse can include hefty fines, loss of parental rights, and a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
Second Degree Child Abuse
Second degree child abuse is a felony charge that occurs when a child is abused by a parent, guardian, or authoritative figure over the child, and the injuries inflicted are not life threatening. The penalty for second degree child abuse can result in hefty fines, loss of parental rights, and a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
Sexual Abuse of a Child
Sexual abuse of a child is a felony charge in the state of Maryland, and covers a wide range of sexual acts against a minor when the act is committed by a parent, guardian, or authoritative figure. The penalties for sex abuse crimes can include hefty fines, loss of parental rights, a lifetime on the national sex offender registry, and a maximum jail sentence of up to 25 years in prison.
Child neglect is a misdemeanor charge that occurs when a parent, guardian, or authoritative figure neglects a child’s physical mental, or emotional needs. The act of neglect does not have to be intentional, and is punishable by law in the state of Maryland with penalties including fines of up to $5,000, loss of parental rights, and a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.
Hiring a Child Abuse Lawyer in Maryland
If you are facing child abuse charges in the state of Maryland, you should take these accusations seriously and hire a child abuse lawyer. At the Law Offices of Jezic & Moyse, our attorneys can review the details of your case and determine the best possible defense for your child abuse case. Once we have prepared the best defense possible, we can guide you through the trial process, ensuring your rights are maintained along the way.
If you are looking for a reputable attorney that is experienced with defending child abuse cases, contact the Law Offices of Jezic & Moyse for a free initial review of your case.