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What Constitutes Child Abuse in Pennsylvania?

In 2019, 4,817 child maltreatment cases in Pennsylvania were reported. Child abuse cases are often serious and have dire consequences on the parent or guardian.

Pennsylvania law defines expressly what child abuse is. If you are facing a child abuse charge in Lemoyne, PA, you will need the expertise and experience of a Lemoyne criminal defense attorney to fight for you.

One of the strategies your lawyer can use to defend you is comparing your case with what the law defines as “child abuse.” That way, you’ll understand whether your actions constitute child abuse or not. And this will be critical in determining the possible outcomes of your case in Pennsylvania.

What Is Child Abuse in Pennsylvania?

Child Protective Services recognizes different categories of child abuse that make up the definition of child abuse.

1 1 What Constitutes Child Abuse in Pennsylvania?

Any actions considered reckless, knowing, and intentional against a victim under 18 are categorized as child abuse.

  • Reckless – consciously disregarding a substantially foreseeable risk.
  • Knowing – acting with the awareness that the person’s conduct will cause a particular result.
  • Intentional – consciously engaging in the conduct while intending to cause the harm that occurred.

Types of Child Abuse

Pennsylvania law also describes several instances where child abuse can be said to have occurred. When faced with any of these situations, you’ll need the help of a Lemoyne child abuse attorney.

  • Causing bodily harm to a child that causes significant pain or impairs the child’s physical condition in a recent act or failure to act.
  • Causing severe physical neglect of the under 18 children which:
  • Impairs the child’s functioning
  • Endangers the child’s development
  • Threatens the child’s life
  • Fabricating or exaggerating, or inducing a medical symptom that leads to a wrong medical evaluation or treatment in a recent act
  • Any recent or failure to act incident where the child ended up with a serious non-accidental mental injury, either one or through a series of acts or failure to act
  • A recent act or failure to act where someone creates the likelihood of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation
  • Creating a likelihood of bodily injury in a recent act or failure to act
  • Causing the death of a child under 18 years of age through a recent act or failure to act
  • Engaging a child in the trafficking of people or sex trafficking
  • Engaging in:
    I.          Burning, stabbing, kicking, throwing, cutting, or biting a child likely to endanger their life
    II.         Forcefully shaking a child under one year of age.
    III.       Leaving the child unsupervised by someone other than the child’s parent
    IV.       Interference with a child’s breathing
    V.        Forcefully striking or slapping a one-year-old child
    VI.      Unreasonable confinement or restraint of the child based on the location, duration and method of detention or restraint
    VII.     Causing the presence of a child in a place where an 18 Pa.C.S. § 7508.2 violation is happening

You should still get the advice of a qualified and experienced Lemoyne child abuse attorney. Your criminal defense lawyer will listen to you, evaluate your case, and determine the best possible defense strategy to suit your case.

What Does The CPS Do When They Receive a Child Abuse Claim?

Once someone calls the state’s child abuse hotline, the Child Protective Services or the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) will get involved immediately. Anyone can make such a report.

2 1 What Constitutes Child Abuse in Pennsylvania?

Once the report is received, the DHS will conduct a deep investigation to find out:

  • Whether the information is factual
  • Whether the family is doing fine
  • Whether the child is currently safe at the home
  • Whether help is needed by the family to take care of the child

The child may be taken away from your home temporarily. If there is significant evidence showing present threats to the child, this period may be extended further. If your child is taken away from your home, you need to act to try and get him or her back. Talk to a compassionate child abuse lawyer in Lemoyne, PA.

What Does the Law Say About Child Endangerment?

Endangerment of a child’s welfare is what’s commonly known as child abuse in Pennsylvania. And in this state, a parent or responsible guardian is likely to face charges if they knowingly and intentionally endanger the welfare of a child under their care.

The prosecution has the task of proving that the individual indeed endangered the child’s welfare. But first, the prosecution must establish that:

  • The child was under 18 years of age at the time
  • The child was knowingly endangered
  • The person violated a duty of care, support, or protection
  • The child was in the defendant’s care

Who Is Responsible for Reporting Instances of Child Abuse?

Remember, persons who fail to report a child abuse case can be charged if they are in an official capacity. Mandatory reporters of child abuse in Pennsylvania include:

  • Teachers
  • Daycare workers
  • Social services workers
  • Medical staff like doctors and nurses
  • School counselors
  • Public library employee
  • A foster parent
  • Independent contractor
  • An attorney representing the child’s welfare
  • A law enforcement official
  • A church or religious leader

3 1 What Constitutes Child Abuse in Pennsylvania?

Because of being zealous in protecting the rights and welfare of children, the children and youth services in Pennsylvania can sometimes step over the rights of others for the sake of “collecting evidence.” Your Lemoyne child abuse lawyer will ensure that your rights aren’t violated in the process.

What Are Excluded from Child Abuse?

There are factors that don’t make a situation a child abuse case. These include:

  • Environmental factors

Inadequate clothing, housing, or medical care that are beyond the parent’s ability and control

  • Practices of religious beliefs

For instance, not providing the needed medical care due to certain beliefs consistent with a bona fide religion.

  • Parental rights

Parents can use reasonable force on or against their children for control, supervision, or discipline.

  • Contact sports

Participating in such events with the child doesn’t constitute child abuse to necessitate reporting.

  • Child on child contact

Fights amongst kids aren’t child abuse unless the child causing harm is a perpetrator.

An Aggressive Attorney Fighting for Your Rights?

If you try to defend yourself against child abuse or child neglect accusations might actually expose you further to the maximum penalties. You can lose your parental privileges, pay hefty fines or serve a lengthy prison sentence. You need a skilled attorney who can guide you.

Our criminal defense attorney can help you make the right decisions. You need an attorney with an extensive understanding of such cases.

Avoid the heavy social stigma that comes with these cases. Talk to us to begin building your defense approach.


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