The term ‘child abuse’ is used in reference to the most serious crimes committed against children. These crimes include physical injury, substantive risk of physical injury, and sexual assault. A person can be charged with an offense related to child abuse if they actually commit the act or allow someone else to commit it.
- State Penalties for Child Abuse:
New York State recognizes and punishes a number of crimes against children. Course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree applies when, over a period of at least three months, a person engages in two or more sexual acts with a child younger than eleven or at least one act with a child younger than thirteen. Course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree is a class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Course of sexual conduct against a child in the second degree is a class D felony that can result in a sentence of one to seven years in prison. Child endangerment is a Class A misdemeanor and takes place when someone intentionally acts in a way likely to inflict physical or mental injury on a child. Examples include committing an act of domestic violence in front of a child or providing them with drugs or alcohol. A conviction can result in fines and up to one year in jail. New York's child endangerment statute does not require proof that any injury actually occurred: it focuses on the "potential" for injury.
- When is the best time to act?:
Anyone charged with a crime defined as child abuse should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. A conviction can result in severe criminal and civil penalties, as well as losing custody of one’s children and entry into a state registry of child abusers. This can seriously impact your future professional and personal relationships.
- Related Crimes:
Course of Sexual Conduct Against a Child, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Female Genital Mutilation, Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Child, Possessing a Sexual Performance by a Child, Predatory Sexual Assault, Statutory Rape
- Difference between New York State and Federal statutes:
Federal legislation identifies a minimum set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse, thereby providing guidelines to the states. Except in certain circumstances, federal laws normally do not apply to child sexual abuse that takes place inside a single state. But if the abuse occurs on federal lands, such as Indian territories and military bases, the offenders may be prosecuted under federal law.
- Successful Defenses:
False allegations of child abuse, proof that a child’s injuries were not abuse-related, proof that a parent or guardian was inflicting a reasonable degree of discipline, and in some circumstances (primarily in cases of illness-related death) religious beliefs have been successful defenses.
- High profile/government cases:
On June 14, 2011, the Manhattan District Attorney announced the laying of criminal charges against 26 individuals for possession of videos and photos depicting sexual assault against children. The defendants were primarily charged with Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Child and Possessing a Sexual Performance by a Child. The arrests concluded a 5-month investigation by the Manhattan DA’s Office’s Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, in conjunction with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations’ Child Exploitation Group.