Penal Code PC 270: Child Neglect Penalties and Defenses
Child neglect is a serious offense in California and can carry harsh penalties. Defendants charged with child neglect may be surprised to find out that they are considered a parent of the child or that the child had been neglected. If you have been charged with child neglect in California, consulting an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer will provide you with the best defense.
California Penal Code 270
California Penal Code 270 pertains to “a parent of a minor child [who] willfully omits, without lawful excuse, to furnish necessary clothing, food, shelter or medical attendance, or other remedial care for his or her child.” This crime is different from both child endangerment and child abuse.
Under the statute, a “parent” can include someone who:
- Is the biological parent
- Never married the custodial parent
- Divorced the custodial parent
- Has no custody rights
- Was married to, or cohabitated with, a custodial parent during the birth of the child
- Had little to no contact with the child
The second part of the statute, “willfully omits” means that the parent willingly or purposely did not provide necessities for the child. A “lawful excuse” as to why you did not provide necessities could be because you could not afford to do so: you will be required to prove that you did not spend your money unwisely on other things and/or that you diligently tried to obtain meaningful employment in order to be able to pay for the child’s needs.
PC 270 Penalties
Violation of California Penal Code 270 can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Child neglect will be considered a felony if the court has already ruled in a previous civil or criminal action that the defendant was the parent and, after the ruling, the parent then fails to provide necessities for the child or if the defendant has been charged with child neglect in the past.
A misdemeanor child neglect conviction is punishable by:
- Summary probation
- Time in county jail, not to exceed one year and/or
- A maximum fine of $2,000.00
A felony child neglect conviction is punishable by:
- Maximum of one year in county jail or one year and one day in prison and/or
- A maximum fine of $2,000.00
CPC 270 Legal Defenses
There are several legal defenses that a defendant may utilize in order to prevent a child neglect conviction. These are:
- The defendant did not act willfully
- The defendant had a lawful excuse
A defendant can be found to have not acted willfully if they were unaware that the child’s needs were not being taken care of or if, due to a strained relationship, they were prevented from contributing to the child’s needs in a meaningful way. A parent may have a lawful excuse for not providing necessities if they were unable to financially provide for the child, through no fault of their own.
Free Case Evaluation for Child Neglect Offenses
Before you are charged with misdemeanor or felony child neglect, consult a knowledgeable California domestic violence defense attorney to ensure that your rights are being protected. The Law Offices of Randy Collins provides free case evaluations to those who have been charged with this offense in Southern California.
Those who are interested in having a skilled attorney fight their charges can call (888) 250-2865 to have their case evaluated by one of our experienced legal professionals for free. The Law Offices of Randy Collins is an A+ rated Better Business Bureau business. Contact today to get help.