Child abuse is a serious crime in all 50 states, including Washington. In Washington, child abuse, neglect, and abandonment fall under the general chapter of “criminal mistreatment” in the state’s criminal code. It’s important to note, however, that child abuse is also addressed in the state’s domestic relations title. As in most other states, Washington also has mandatory reporting requirements that apply to a variety of professionals, including law enforcement and adults with regular access to children, such as teachers and pediatricians.
The criminal mistreatment of children is divided into degrees depending on the degree of harm as well as the adult’s actions. To better understand the Washington child abuse laws, it’s helpful to define some key terms: 1) Basic Necessities of Life: shelter, food, water, clothing, and necessary health care, 2) Bodily Injury: physical pain or injury, illness, or impairment of physical condition, 3) Substantial Bodily Harm: injury that involves a fracture, or substantial but temporary disfigurement, loss or impairment of an organ or body part and 4) Great Bodily Harm: injury that creates a high probability of death, causes serious permanent disfigurement, or permanent or prolonged loss or impairment of an organ or body part.
It’s also important to note that Washington’s criminal mistreatment laws apply to the parent of a child, a person who’s responsible for the physical custody of a child, and a person who’s employed to provide a child with the basic necessities of life.
When you have a legal question, you’re usually looking for a quick and easy answer. Unfortunately, laws are usually written in “legalese,” which can take a while to understand. That’s why it can be very helpful to read a summary of the law without the legal jargon. The following chart provides links to relevant statutes and summarizes Washington’s laws relating to the mistreatment of children.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.