Child Abuse, Neglect, and Endangerment Laws In Nevada
As unpleasant as this topic is, it is obviously something that needs to be addressed.
Nevada law defines child abuse, neglect and endangerment (NRS200.508) as willfully causing a minor (a person under the age of 18) to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering.
There are 5 forms of child abuse that are recognized in Nevada:
Child abuse is considered a gross misdemeanor or a felony depending on the seriousness of the crime.
Only an experienced defense team should represent someone charged with any child abuse offense.
Call The Defenders today if you have been charged in a child abuse case in Nevada.
Some FAQ’s We Hear Often –
Is Child neglect a felony in Nevada
What is considered child neglect in Nevada
What are the signs of neglect abuse
What is Child Abuse in Nevada
The legal defination of child abuse in Nevada is “ Willfully casuing a child who is less than 18 years of age to suffer unjusgtifiable physical pain or mental suffering”.
Child abuse is considered a general intent crime.
That means that a person does not have to intend to harm or hurt a child, but only to intentionally commit the acts that cause the abuse even if unintended.
The Nevada definition of child abuse includes a wide area of unlawful behaviors that affect children including:
- Physical abuse– Physical abuse is considered battery against a child and includes; Punching, kicking, pushing, burning , crushing, cutting, strangling, throwing objects, or any other act that causes unjustifiable pain to a minor child. Nevada does allow for corporal punishment for disciplinary reasons but the punishment can not be physically debilitating or excessive. Physical abuse resulting in death can be charged as a first degree murder case
- Emotional abuse- Emotional abuse is behavior that injures a child ‘s intellectual, psychological or emotional development where the normal range of performance is impaired. Some examples of emotional abuse are telling a child they are worthless on a continuous basis, brainwashing or radicalizing a child with destructive beliefs, or not allowing the minor to attend school or learn or play. Emotional or mental abuse is much harder to prove because there are no physical injuries that are visible. Most of these cases are prosecuted by using psychological evaluations, medical experts and witnesses.
- Sexual abuse or exploitation– First the age of consent in Nevada is 16 years of age. Sexual abuse of a child includes acts of Sexual assault (sex acts with penetration), incest, lewdness with a child under 16, open or gross lewdness (sex acts without penetration ). If you are considered an adult over the age of 18 and are dating a 14-15 year old you are guilty of lewdness against a child, a class B felony even if they consent they are not legally allowed to consent therefore it’s a crime.
- Neglect/Endangerment- This is when the person responsible for care of the minor child abandons the child or leaves the child without proper supervision, food, shelter, medicine or other necessary care. A person can be charged with child neglect even if there are no physical injuries to the child. Child endangerment is putting a child in a situation that jeopardizes their physical or mental health. For example, leaving a child with a relative that is known to be abusive, operating a meth lab where a child is present, letting a child play in a hazardous area are all examples of child endangerment.
What are The Pentalties For Child Abuse or Endangerment
Like most other criminal cases, the punishments for child abuse can range from counseling and probation, to long terms in state prison based on the severity of the case and the offender’s previous criminal record.
There are 5 factors considered in a child abuse or neglect case
- Was the alleged abuse willful- The court draws a distinction between willfully causing abuse and knowingly allowing or permitting the abuse to happen.
- Whether substantial harm occurred- harsher sentences are handed to defendants that are convicted where the victim has substantial physical injury or mental harm. Physical injury resulting in temporary or permanent disfigurement or organ impairment like a broken bone or ruptured eardrum. Mental harm is the intellectual, psychological, logical,or emotional damage that causes the child to not function normally. This can present itself as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) or severe depression.
- Child Abuse by sexual acts- The sentences will be longer if the alleged abuse was of a sexual nature. A sexual penetration is not necessary for a court to consider abuse as sexual. Dating a minor the age of 15 or younger is considered as a sexual child abuse case because the minor is not at the age of consent. You can be charged as a sex offender in Nevada if convicted of dating a minor under the age of 15.
- Age of the child- In Nevada the courts consider the abuse allegations to be more severe if the child is under the age of 13.
- Repeat offender- Harsher sentences will be given to repeat offenders who have previously been convicted of child abuse cases.
All child abuse cases are taken seriously and very few if any are plea bargained down because of the serious nature of thes cases.
However there are times where plea bargains are made based on the above factors.
But remember the courts take these cases very seriously and being convicted could land someone in state prison for life in some cases.
Many class A felonies like child abuse in the first degree with substantial physical or mental harm or child abuse that involves sexual abuse or exploitation of a child under the age of 13 can result in a prison term of life with the possibility of parole after 15 years and Nevada Sex offender status.
So if you are charged with any form of child abuse you need to hire an expereinced defense team to represent you.
Defense Against a Child Abuse Case
If you’ve been charged with a child abuse crime in Nevada there are some strategies for fighting the charges or to negotiate a more favorable outcome.
Some common defenses are:
- Accident– A parent is not guilty of child abuse in Nevada if no intent to commit a harmful act exists. For example if you drop a baby by accident you had no intent to harm the child it was an accident. Also if a child injures themselves from an accident that the parent could not have resonably foreseen they are not guilty of child abuse. As we know children hurt themselves all the time from falls, playing sports, rough housing with friends, bike riding and all sorts of other things kids get into regularly.
- Self Defense– Sounds strange against a child abuse case but it is legal to defend themselves even against children if the following are true. You reasonably believe you are about to be killed or injured. You reasonably believe the immediate force is necessary to prevent danger. You do not use anymore force than necessary.
Teens and Older Children can be violent at times and self defense maybe necessary to stop an excalating situation but that does not make someone guilty of child abuse.
- False Accusations– There are many reasons false accusations happen; Sometimes an angry child accuses a parent of abuse or hurts themselves and accuses a parent or another adult. Sometimes especially in cases of divorce or child custody one parent accuses another of abuse to sway the divorce or custody case in their favor.
- Reasonable corporal punishment-Parents are permitted to discipline their children in Nevada. In some cases a police officer or social worker may mistake discipline for abuse before investigating the allegations fully. This happens often and charges can be dismissed if the court considers it discipline and not abuse.
- No harm occurred to the child-Abuse did not occur in Nevada if no unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering occurred.
What to do if I’m Charged With Child Abuse
Just like any other criminal or civil case you need to be an active participant in your defense.
Always do exactly what the court says no matter what you think.
If at a hearing you are advised to stay away from the accuser you need to do just that.
But the most important thing you can do is hire a defense team with years of experience in Las Vegas and Nevada call The Defenders.
The Defenders will give you a free consultation and case review.
The Defenders will be able to use our investigative team to gather all information or evidence including police reports, witness statements, medical records, photos, videos and any other evidence to help defend you.
If a viable defense is available you might be able to reduce or get the charges dismissed based on the evidence.
Call The Defenders if you want a team of experienced defense attorneys on your side.