Spanking Results in Third-Degree Child Abuse Charges

June 16, 2015 Abuse and Neglect Attorney

Spanking children is one of those tricky subjects – some people believe wholeheartedly in it as a form of punishment, while others think it’s abusive and unacceptable. It is legal in Michigan to spank a child, but regardless of your personal views, most people would agree that if a child needs to be hospitalized because of it, then the parent probably went too far.


Mara A. Hess-Schoonveld, a 24-year-old resident of Bay City appeared voluntarily for her arraignment in the Bay County District Court. Hess-Schoonveld is accused of having repeatedly spanked her 6-year-old step-daughter over a period of several days, allegedly resulting in injuries.


According to police records, law enforcement became involved in the matter when the girl was taken to a local hospital to be treated. She told officers that her step-mother had spanked her several times for three days on her bare buttocks.


When questioned by police, Hess-Schoonveld did admit to repeated spankings, but only over a period of several hours, not days. According to police, they believe that the spankings took place on April 1st, 2nd and 3rd.


Hess-Schoonveld was arraigned on a single count of third-degree child abuse. Under Michigan law, third-degree child abuse is a felony punishable by two years in prison. The law defines third- degree child abuse as either “knowingly or intentionally causing physical harm to a child” or “knowingly or intentionally committing an act that, under the circumstances, poses an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to a child, and the act results in physical harm to a child.”


As lawyers who champion the rights of parents to raise their children, cases like this, whether the allegations prove to be true or false, can make it difficult for all parents in the long run.  There are numerous resources available to help parents discipline their children wisely and stay out of trouble with the law.


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