Child neglect has been on the minds of California lawmakers for a long time. From 1987-1995 there was a 27% increase in child abuse/neglect cases. In 1994 alone, the state dealt with 664,000 child abuse/neglect cases, with 90,000 children becoming involved in the state’s foster program. No one was happy about the situation.
In California, child abandonment laws and child neglect laws are tangled up together. Issues that are covered in the state’s child neglect/abuse laws include:
✦ Emotional Abuse
✦ Exploitation of minors
✦ General Neglect
✦ Physical Abuse
✦ Severe Neglect
✦ Sexual Abuse
The state’s child abuse and child neglect laws were put in place specifically to make it possible for the state to criminalize the actions of any parent they feel isn’t properly caring for their child. The goal was to make parents understand that they would be held accountable for their actions.
The state has the right to press child abuse or neglect charges against any parent that is withholding:
✦ Medical Care
✦ Basic remedial care that all children require
What About When Income is an Issue
According to California’s Penal Code 270 which deal with child neglect, being found guilty of child neglect requires: “Proof of abandonment or desertion of a child by such parent, or the omission by such parent to furnish necessary food, clothing, shelter or medical attendance or other remedial care for his or her child is prima facie evidence that such abandonment or desertion or omission to furnish necessary food, clothing, shelter or medical attendance or other remedial care is willful and without lawful excuse.”-Source
There’s no getting around the fact that income plays a huge role in a parent’s ability to care for their child. State lawmakers understand that as does the court system. When a prosecutor of reviewing a child abuse/neglect case they look at the parent’s financial status and determine if the parent did their best to provide their child with care given their budget. They will also look to see if the parent made an effort to take advantage of state-funded programs that are designed to help people who live below the poverty level care for their children by providing basic food, hygiene, and medical staples.
There is a section of PC 270, that addresses the issue of income and child neglect cases. “The court, in determining the ability of the parent to support his or her child, shall consider all income, including social insurance benefits and gifts.”
When dealing with a child abuse/neglect case, the court’s primary goal is to make sure the parents did everything in their power to care for their child and to provide the child with a loving and nurturing home.
What Happens if You’re Found Guilty of Child Neglect
If you’re found guilty of child neglect in California the judge can sentence you to a full year in jail. This will likely be followed by a probation period. The court also has the right to issues fines that can’t exceed $2,000. It is also possible that you’ll lose custody of your child.