The issue of child abuse is a very serious topic that can quickly change a person’s life if they are accused of the offense, whether or not they are actually guilty. With Arizona reporting requirements, citizens or professionals who suspect child abuse violations are required to notify law enforcement, who will investigate any reports of physical abuse that comes to their attention.
If the child in question has marks or bruises, this alone will not be sufficient evidence for a child abuse conviction, but if evidence is found that links you to actual abuse, you may face serious consequences that can include the possibility of jail time, fines, damage of reputation, loss of parental rights and a conviction on your criminal record.
Although child abuse is a serious charge that can be difficult to defend, you do have options with regard to fighting the charges against you that can result in the possibility of a reduction or dismissal of your child abuse case.
Tempe Child Abuse Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with child abuse in Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Phoenix or the surrounding areas, it's critical to consider your defense options. James E. Novak, an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney, is a courtroom veteran and former prosecutor. His perspective can prove invaluable when confronted with a situation that can profoundly impact your life and that of your family's, whether you are facing false or exaggertaed charges of child abuse. Call (480) 413-1499 to schedule a free consultation regarding your child abuse charges in Maricopa County.
Definition of Child Abuse in Arizona
Child abuse can take many forms, but according to the Arizona Revised Statutes section §13.3623, an individual can be charged with varying levels of child abuse depending on whether or not the circumstances were likely to produce death or serious physical injury.
Abuse is defined under Arizona Revised Statutes § 8.201 as:
- Inflicting or allowing physical injury
- Impairment of bodily function or disfigurement
- Neglect, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or abandonment
- Serious emotional damage diagnosed by a doctor or psychologist
- Evidence of severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior caused by an individual who is in care and custody of a child
Physical injury is defined under ARS § 13.3623 as:
- The impairment of physical condition, including skin bruising, pressure sores, bleeding, failure to thrive, malnutrition, dehydration, burns, fractures, etc…
Emotional abuse, under the same statute, is defined as:
- A pattern of ridiculing or demeaning a child, making derogatory remarks, verbally harassing, or threatening to inflict physical injury or emotional harm.
Mesa Child Abuse Reporting Requirements
Arizona law also provides for reporting requirements under the Arizona Revised Statutes section 13.3620, which requires certain individuals to report any signs of child abuse to the proper authorities.
With regard to the reporting requirements in Arizona, if a witness observes or examines a child and notices signs of injury and abuse, they must alert authorities, or they can potentially be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor offense.
Signs of injury or abuse can include unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, black eyes, choke marks or lash marks.
Penalties for Child Abuse in Tempe
According to ARS § 13.3623, an individual can be charged with a class 6, 5, 4, 3, or 2 felony conviction, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged child abuse offense.
Stated in ARS § 13.623(A), an individual who is charged with child abuse that involves a situation that is likely to result in death or serious physical injury of the child may face the following presumptive charges:
- If the abuse is committed “intentionally” or “knowingly,” the offense is punishable as a class 2 felony. If the victim is under 15 years of age, the offense then qualifies for increased punishment under the dangerous crimes against children Statute.
- If the abuse is committed “recklessly,” then the offense can be charged as a class 3 felony.
- If the abuse is comitted with “criminal negligence,” then the offense can be charged as a class 4 felony.
According to ARS § 13.623(B), an individual who is charged with child abuse that involves a situation in which the circumstance are not likely to produce death or serious physical injury, the charges are reduced but still somewhat similar:
- If the abuse is committed “intentionally” or “knowingly,” it can be charged as a class 4 felony.
- If the abuse is committed “recklessly,” then the offense can be charged as a class 5 felony.
- If the abuse is committed with “criminal negligence,” then the offense can be charged as a class 6 felony.
The following are the presumptive penalties for a first time offender:
- Class 2 felony – 4 to 10 years in prison and/or fines ranging from $750 – $150,000
- Class 3 felony – 2 to 7 years in prison and/or fines ranging from $750 – 150,000
- Class 4 felony – 1.5 to 3 years in prison and/or fines ranging from $750 – $150,000
- Class 5 felony – .75 to 2 years in prison and/or fines ranging from $750 – $150,000
- Class 6 felony – .5 to 1.5 years in prison and/or fines ranging from $750 – $150,000
Law Office of James E. Novak | Child Abuse Arrest in Maricopa County
Considering the severity and potential penalties for a child abuse offense, having the right defense lawyer can be the difference between a jail sentence and being exonerated of the offense. James E. Novak has the experience necessary to confidently fight for your rights. Additionally, his Masters in Counseling/Education provides him with a deeper insight into many of the psychological factors involved with allegations of child abuse in Maricopa County. Call the Law Offices of James E. Novak at (480) 413-1499 or send an online message to schedule a free consultation today.