Child Abuse in Ohio

Since it is a politically charged issue in our country, allegations of child abuse have the potential to turn your life upside down in many ways. Not only will you have to deal with the criminal aspect, but there may also be a debilitating effect on your social and professional life.

Child abuse is a very difficult charge to defend against, considering there are subjective elements which are not uncommon in Ohio domestic violence issues. With all that you have to lose, it is vital that you understand the laws in place and can develop a proper defense strategy with an attorney to fight these charges.

In the state of Ohio, there is a specific definition of what constitutes an “abused child.” Ohio Revised Code §2151.031 states that an “abused child” is any child who:

• Is the victim of sexual activity;
• Is endangered through a parent, guardian, or custodian creating substantial risk to the health or safety of the child;
• Exhibits evidence of any physical or mental injury or death, inflicted other than by accidental means; or
• Suffers physical or mental injury that harms or threatens to harm the child’s health or welfare.

Expanding more on the endangerment of a child, Ohio Revised Code §2919.22 states that no person shall do any of the following to child under eighteen years of age or a mentally or physically handicapped child under the age of twenty-one:

• Abuse the child;
• Torture or cruelly abuse the child;
• Administer corporal punishment, or other physical disciplinary measure, or physically restrain the child in a cruel manner or for a prolonged period, which punishment, discipline, or restraint is excessive under the circumstances and creates substantial risk for the child;
• Entice, coerce, use or allow a child to participate in material that is obscene or sexually oriented;
• Operating a motor vehicle under the influence with a minor in the car.

If convicted of child abuse, the sentencing could vary depending of the specifics of your particular case. Child abuse convictions will almost always be considered felonies. In the state of Ohio, a felony ranges from the least serious, a felony in the fifth degree (up to six months in prison and / or a fine of up to $2500), to the most serious, a felony of the first degree (up to 10 years in prison and / or a fine of up to $20,000).

Ohio law does explicitly state that there are situations in which the religion of the household could keep charges from being handed down. In Ohio Revised Code §2919.22, it states that it is not a violation of a duty of care, protection, or support when the parent, guardian, custodian, or person having custody or control of a child treats the physical or mental illness or defect of the child by spiritual means through prayer alone, in accordance with the tenets of a recognized religious body. This particular statement has been used as a defense in many child abuse cases.

With all the possible scenarios with which a child abuse allegation can stem, discussing your case with a qualified criminal defense lawyer may provide some insight on how to go about fighting these charges and get back on with your life.