According to A.R.S. §13-3623, a child is defined as being an individual who is under 18 years of age, and a vulnerable adult is a person who is age 18 or older and unable to protect themselves from neglect, exploitation or abuse due to a physical or mental impairment. When abuse is suspected concerning an individual who falls into these two categories, then charges of Child Abuse and Vulnerable Adult Abuse may be applied.
Category 1 Abuse Cases
A person can be charged with child or vulnerable adult abuse when they have custody, yet allow abuse to occur, or they allow the individual in their custody to be placed in a situation that places their life or health in danger. Category 1 abuse can be charged according to the following schedule of offenses:
- Abuse that occurred with intention or full knowledge is classified as a class two felony. If the victim was 15 or younger at the time of the occurrence, then this will fall under the Dangerous Crimes Against Children (DCAC) Statute.
- Abuse that was caused by recklessness will be classified as a class three felony.
- Abuse that occurred due to criminal negligence will be classified as a class four felony.
For these charges, recklessness may be applied if the defendant should have been aware of or chose to disregard a situation in which there was a substantial risk or circumstances that would contribute to an occurrence of abuse. The risks and circumstances involved must also be recognized as a “gross deviation” from the norm of what a reasonable person would consider a normal standard of conduct. For an act of child or vulnerable adult abuse charges to be classified as criminal negligence, the defendant must have failed to identify a substantial risk that a reasonable person would have recognized during the occurrence.
Category 2 Abuse Charges
In category 2 child and vulnerable adult cases, the circumstances were not likely to result in serious physical injury or death; however, the victim did or could have suffered from an injury or abuse. A defendant in these cases could face the following charges:
- An act done with intention or knowledge will be a class four felony charge.
- An act that occurred recklessly will be a class five felony charge.
- An act committed with criminal negligence will be a class six felony charge.
Are you facing vulnerable adult or child abuse charges? If so, then contact David Michael Cantor at 602-737-2812 or click here to fill out our online form for a free initial consultation.
Possible Penalties for Child/Vulnerable Adult Abuse Charges
- 1. An act of abuse that carried the risk of death or physical injury to a child under the age of 15 falls under the Dangerous Acts Against Children Statute and will be classified as a class two felony. On a first-offense, a person faces the potential penalty of up to 24 years maximum of incarceration. Those with an allegeable historical prior conviction could face a maximum penalty of 35 years of incarceration.
- Abuse that was done intentionally toward an elderly individual (i.e. 65 or older) or person under the age of 15 will be classified as a class two felony. The punishment for this charge can range from zero days of probation for a first-offense to a maximum of 35 years of incarceration for someone with two or more allegeable historical prior convictions.
- If recklessness is applied to the case, then it will be classified as a class three felony and carry penalties ranging from zero days jail time and probation for a first-offense to a maximum of 25 years of incarceration for those with two or more allegeable historical prior convictions.
Potential Defenses for Child/Vulnerable Abuse Charges
When defending these types of charges, the first strategy a criminal defense attorney will use is to prove that the defendant did not act with intention or knowledge to harm the individual involved. This will remove the possibility of the defendant facing the most severe level of penalties.
For the majority of vulnerable adult and child abuse cases, the defense strategy will focus on proving that the defendant was not engaged in negligent or reckless behavior. For example, a parent cannot be expected to observe their child every hour of the day and accidents can easily occur such as a child who becomes injured while playing at the neighborhood park. An incident of elderly abuse may also arise due to a fall in which the victim sustained an injury. In these types of case, the physical harm experienced by the victim may not have been prevented even with the utmost care.
Our law team also focuses on investigating a case from every angle, and during our investigation we may uncover evidence that can also be used in a person’s defense. If you were denied your Constitutional rights or mistakes were made by the law enforcement officers during your arrest and subsequent interrogation, then these may be used as a part of our defense strategy. Due to the serious nature of child abuse charges, it is important to act quickly so that we can get started uncovering evidence that can be used in your defense.
If you are in need of an aggressive criminal defense attorney, then contact DM Cantor for a free initial consultation by using our online form or calling us 24 hours a day at 602-737-2812 today.