Definition and Aspects of Child Neglect:
Parents have the freedom to raise their children in any way they see fit in the United States; however, failure to provide basic care and necessities for a child is against the law. Under California Penal Code 270 (PC 270), Child Neglect is a misdemeanor or potential felony-level offense, punishable with jail time, severe fines, and additional court-mandated probation terms.
To be convicted of California Penal Code 270 (PC 270), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant is the parent of a minor
- The Defendant failed to provide a necessity for that minor
- The Defendant’s failure to provide was willful and without a lawful excuse
A minor is any person under the legal age of 18.
Necessities include but are not limited to:
- Medical care or remedial care
It is the parent’s responsibility to provide necessities to their minor children, to the best of their ability. If there is a legal excuse as to why the parent cannot fulfill these needs, such as lack of income or capacity to produce, there could be exceptions to this law. If the parent has employment and reasonable means but actively chooses to spend that on something else, it would not count as a viable excuse.
Criminal Offenses Related to Child Neglect:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code 270 (PC 270), Child Neglect:
- Child Endangerment – California Penal Code 273(a) (PC 273(a))
- Child Abuse – California Penal Code 273(b) (PC 273(b))
- Failure to Supervise Child’s School Attendance – California Penal Code 270(1)(a) (PC 270(1)(a))
Examples of Child Neglect:
A married couple is both employed and has the income to care for their children. However, they spend their income to satisfy their gambling addiction, and the children often go to the neighbor’s house to eat because there isn’t any food at home. Under California Penal Code 270 (PC 270), the couple could be charged with Child Neglect.
A single father has been laid off from his place of employment and has been living off of his savings. He can prove that he has been applying for positions and has reached out to the state for aid in the meantime, but can no longer afford the necessities his child needs. The state in this scenario would most likely step in to take measures and provide for the child, and in this case, the single father would likely not be prosecuted for Child Neglect (PC 270).
In the final example, a single father has been divorced and does not have custody of his children. Under California Penal Code 270 (PC 270), he could still be prosecuted if the children are neglected, as it is still the parents’ responsibility to provide.
Defenses to Child Neglect:
If someone legitimately does not have the means to produce for his/her children, he/she would not be criminally liable for not providing. If the Defendant can prove that he/she applies to jobs, does everything in their power to provide, and still cannot, he/she would probably not be charged with Child Neglect (PC 270).
Another defense questions the necessity itself. If the parent is providing care to the best of their intentions, but those do not line up with conventional standards, the case could be dismissed. For example, a mother does not take her child to the doctor for a mild illness because her religious beliefs support holistic healing. Prosecution for Child Neglect (PC 270) is unlikely in this scenario unless the results are extreme.
Lastly, false accusations of Child Neglect (PC 270) are unfortunately quite common, especially in the case of estranged parents. If, in the heat of the moment, one formal spouse accuses the other of Child Neglect (PC 270) in order to gain custody of the minor, the claim is then hard to take it back before further investigation ensues. An experienced Defense Attorney can effectively get the charges dismissed in this case.
Consequences and Penalty for Child Neglect:
California Penal Code 270 (PC 270) is a ‘wobbler’ offense. A wobbler means that Child Neglect (PC 270) could either be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the details of the incident and the Defendant’s criminal history.
Most often, Child Neglect (PC 270) is charged as a misdemeanor. The punishment includes a jail sentence of up to a year, fines up to $2,000, and other probation terms. A court can mandate the Defendant to take parenting classes or seek counseling as a result of the neglect.
If California Penal Code 270 (PC 270) is charged as a felony, the Defendant can face a jail sentence of up to one year or a prison sentence of a year and one day. The convicted parent would also be responsible for a fine up to $2,000. Additionally, a Judge might set specific probation terms, such as counseling or parenting courses.
Child Neglect (PC 270) can be expunged from the convicted parent’s criminal record if all probation terms, fines, and jail obligations are met.
Lastly, if California Penal Code 270 (PC 270) is charged as a felony offense, the convicted loses his/her right to own a firearm. This is the case with any convicted felon in the state of California.
Child Neglect, under California Penal Code 270 (PC 270), is a wobbler offense that can result in jail time, severe fines, and additional classes or other probation terms. It is essential that if you or someone you know is charged with Child Neglect, you contact an expert attorney as soon as possible.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of child neglect cases and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Penal Code Section 270 (PC 270), Child Neglect. Book a free consultation today.