When you think of domestic violence cases, you probably tend to think of a husband and wife getting into a fight with some assault involved. But do domestic violence and physical discipline of a child go hand in hand as well? The truth is, domestic violence laws do not just target two spouses – it also encompasses violence that takes place between family members, those who live in the same household, or those in romantic relationships. So could it apply to children? Yes, but only in the right scenario.
From a legal standpoint, not every instance of parental discipline means that a crime took place. Parents have a right to discipline their children within reason, which is why parents will usually be permitted to spank their children under the law. Criminal behavior starts to set in when a child is being outright abused or neglected, such as in serious cases involving broken bones, malnourishment, and more.
What is “Reasonable?”
Many states find issue in determining what is ‘reasonable’ as a manner of discipline. For instance, Connecticut treats it very “briefly” and says that any act in which constitutes abuse is also domestic violence. Whereas, Missouri law is a bit more specific, saying that domestic violence includes any manner of assault, battery, coercion, harassment, sexual assault, or unlawful imprisonment. When a case is taken to trial, judges themselves sometimes wonder how to interpret the meaning of abuse and will reference certain sources, such as legislative records. State legislative has recognized that not every instance of parental force and discipline is going to be a domestic violence case, and it all boils down to the specific circumstances, or injury that was caused to the child on an emotional or physical level.
At the Law Office of Peter Blair, we are here for you if you have been charged with a crime but have a valid defense. If you are headed to court or need an attorney to answer some of your burning questions, we are here for you.