It goes without saying that child abuse is a very serious crime in Mississippi. Not only are children defenseless, but they also may be unable to get help from the authorities. Harming these vulnerable, young individuals is considered one of the worst crimes in the state of Mississippi, and those guilty of this offense face severe penalties. Child abuse can come in many different forms, and it is important to understand how the state defines this crime in a legal context.
If you have been charged with child abuse in Mississippi, you should get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Sometimes, parents or other individuals are wrongfully accused of these offenses. Perhaps your spouse has accused you of child abuse during your divorce, even though you always treated your children well. If this is the case, it is imperative to work with our legal professionals to clear your name.
How Does Mississippi Define Child Abuse?
A person is guilty of child abuse when they emotionally, mentally, or physically harm a child. Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation also constitute child abuse, as does “general maltreatment.” Note that this is not the same as child neglect, which is a less serious offense. Neglect is when a parent or guardian fails to care and support the children in their care with proper food, education, medical care, shelter, etc.
Specific examples of physical abuse listed in Mississippi’s laws include:
- Using a deadly weapon
- Striking on the face or head
- Striking a child under the age of 14 on the head with a closed fist
- Striking a child under the age of 5 on the head
- Striking or harming a child’s genitals
Note that you can also face criminal consequences for allowing your child to be abused. This means that if you are a parent who simply watches someone else (like your spouse) abuse your children, you could be charged with a crime for not reporting this abuse.
Penalties for Child Abuse
While child neglect is usually prosecuted as a misdemeanor, child abuse is generally considered a felony in Mississippi. If you permit ongoing physical or sexual abuse of a child, you could face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
If you harm a child in a serious manner (such as burning or torturing), you will face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Any subsequent offenses come with a life sentence. If you condone child abuse, you will face a misdemeanor and a one-year sentence.
Everyone has a responsibility to report child abuse – not just parents. This includes teachers, police officers, attorneys, social workers, medical professionals, and anyone else who might see evidence of these acts.
Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today
If you have been accused of child abuse, reach out to Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. We have considerable experience with a wide range of criminal cases in Mississippi, and we can help you approach this situation in an effective manner. If you were falsely accused, we can present evidence that will clear your name. Book your consultation today, and we can develop an effective defense strategy together.