When you hear about someone is the news being faced with “child abuse charges“, this actually refers to a wide range of possible criminal charges. The Michigan penal code contains a number of different changes that a prosecutor can choose from, based on the circumstances of the alleged crime. Some are very specific, while others are general and meant to provide a lot of leeway in covering numerous different situations and forms of abuse. In order to give you a better idea of what types of child abuse charges are possible in Michigan, we have created a list that contains all of the possible options.
First Degree Child Abuse
First Degree Child Abuse refers to anyone knowingly or intentionally inflicting “serious physical or mental harm” on a child. This category of physical harm includes very serious injuries like broken bones, burns, brain injuries, or internal injuries. Serious mental harm refers either to the harming of a child’s mind to the point that they are unable to cope with the demands of life, or to impairing the child’s judgment or behavior. This charge is a felony, and is punishable in Michigan by up to life in prison.
Second Degree Child Abuse
Second Degree Child Abuse refers to three possible scenarios. The first is a parent or guardian’s willful failure to provide what a child needs for their basic welfare, which then results in serious harm to the child. This would include denying food, clothing, or shelter. When a child is severely neglected, this would be the charge used to prosecute the accused. Another instance that is covered in the legal description of this charge, would be knowingly or intentionally committing an act that is likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to the child, even if the child is not actually harmed.
The third and final situation that this charge can refer to is when a caretaker knowingly or intentionally does something to a child that is considered to be “cruel.” The legal definition of “cruel” includes anything that could be described as brutal, inhumane, sadistic, or tormenting. Child Abuse in the Second Degree is punishable by up to ten years in prison for first offenses, and up to twenty years in prison for all second and subsequent convictions.
Third Degree Child Abuse
Third Degree Child Abuse refers to when a person knowingly or intentionally does something that causes physical harm to a child. When this charge is used, the prosecutor is required to prove to the court that the child in question was actually harmed, not just placed at risk of harm. This charge is punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years.
Fourth Degree Child Abuse
Fourth Degree Child Abuse refers to an adult’s reckless act or omission, which causes a child to be physically harmed. It also can refer to someone knowingly or intentionally doing something that, under the circumstances, puts a child at risk of being harmed, even if nothing actually happens to that child. Unlike the previous three degrees, Fourth Degree Child Abuse is a misdemeanor under Michigan law, and is punishable by up to one year in jail.
Join us next time, as we look at Child Endangerment, Child Sexually Abusive Activity, Accosting a Minor, and several others. Until then, if you or a loved one are accused of abusing or neglecting a child, contact us immediately at 800-576-6035. The skilled attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have decades of experience protecting parents from overzealous prosecutors and invasive CPS agents. We have a long history of garnering successful results for our clients, and we can help you too.