Disciplining a child can be a tricky subject, as it is a parent’s responsibility to teach their child right from wrong while ensuring their safety and well-being. However, when discipline becomes abusive, it can cross the line into criminal behavior.
In Texas, what you see as discipline can lead to a charge of continuous family violence law, a serious offense alleging that a family member engaged in violent or abusive behavior towards that child. Whether you intended to harm your child or not, there can be repercussions and penalties if the law finds that your discipline was considered abuse. If this is the case, then you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend your parental decisions in court. Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm has this experience, as well as experience dealing with CPS. This unique advantage can give you an edge when you’re facing criminal charges stemming from alleged child abuse.
Discipline vs. abuse
Disciplining a child is a necessary part of parenting. However, when discipline becomes excessive or violent, it can quickly become abusive. The Texas Family Code outlines the acceptable methods of discipline that a parent or guardian can use. These include verbal reprimands, timeouts, and spanking, but only to the extent that it does not cause bodily injury.
Physical abuse, however, can include hitting, kicking, or using an object to strike a child. But apparently, it is only abuse when a parent does it; after all, corporal punishment is legal in every single school district in Texas. So while it is perfectly acceptable for a teacher to paddle a student, a parent who does so twice in a year – or who threatens to paddle the child once and then actually paddles the child another time, even within the same day – could face charges for abuse.
How the continuous family violence law make affect you
In Texas, the continuous family violence law was enacted to address situations where family violence is ongoing or recurring. The law defines family violence as any act committed by a family member against another family member, including a child, that is intended to cause bodily harm, physical or sexual abuse, or threats of harm.
Under the continuous family violence law, a person can be charged with a third-degree felony if they have two or more prior convictions for family violence. A person can also be charged with a third-degree felony if they have committed family violence against a child or other family member and the violence is likely to continue in the future.
Penalties for abusive discipline
Abusive discipline can have serious legal consequences in Texas, which usually happen after you are visited by Child Protective Services. A person who is convicted of child abuse or neglect can face a range of penalties, including fines, jail time, and loss of parental rights. Understand that if someone accuses you of abuse, there is an excellent chance you will lose your family.
In addition, a conviction for child abuse can have long-lasting consequences outside of these legal punishments. You can face difficulty finding or keeping employment, getting housing, or obtaining/retaining a professional license or security clearance. The loss of reputation will be swift, and it can take a very long time to earn back the trust of your community if there’s even if you did nothing wrong. The court of public opinion – especially in today’s online society – issues its decisions based on no information, and that can leak into every aspect of your life.
If you are facing charges of child abuse or neglect in Texas, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced Copperas Cove criminal defense attorney. A skilled attorney can help you navigate the complex legal system and work to protect your rights and interests. They can also help you understand the potential consequences of a conviction and develop a defense strategy that works best for your situation.
Some free advice from Copperas Cove defense lawyers who are also parents
Far be it from us to tell parents how to raise their children. We don’t like it when folks offer unsolicited “friendly advice” about what they think we’re doing right or wrong with our kids, and we assume you don’t, either.
But we’re not talking to you as parents today. We’re talking to you as lawyers who represent parents in criminal courts when they are facing accusations of abuse. We know just how bad it can get for families, and how quickly things can spin out of control. We’re in the business of helping people whose lives have turned upside down.
There are many forms of child discipline that do not involve corporal punishment. Some alternative methods of discipline include positive reinforcement, time-outs, natural consequences, logical consequences, and verbal communication. One of those might work better for you.
The other piece of “free” advice we’ll strongly recommend that you take is to stay off social media. The minute you start litigating your case online, the worse your position becomes. Online commenters can be like sharks in the water; they will start to circle if they think you are weak. And the more you explain your side and defend yourself, the worse it is likely to become. There is also a risk that more and more people will learn about the accusations. On top of that, anything you say online can potentially be used against you in a court case as part of the discovery. Delete your accounts (or at least let them go silent) and call us immediately so we can start to mitigate the damage and prepare your defense.
Disciplining a child is an important part of parenting, but when discipline appears to become abusive, it can have serious consequences. In Texas, the continuous family violence law protects children from abusive behavior and holds perpetrators accountable for their actions. If you are facing charges of child abuse or neglect in Texas, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your legal options and develop a defense strategy that works best for your situation.
The consequences of a child abuse accusation can have a ripple effect into every aspect of your life. Our legal team at Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm will work to safeguard your constitutional rights throughout the process, fighting the allegations against you and protecting your reputation and freedom. We’re here to fight for you. To schedule a consultation, call us or fill out our contact form. We have offices in Killeen and Copperas Cove, and handle in-custody visits for clients who cannot come to us. We serve Coryell County, Bell County, McLennan County, Temple, Waco, and Belton.
I’ve dedicated my legal career to defending my clients. I demand all the evidence. I investigate all the facts, the so-called witnesses and even the police officers. I make it my business to know the law. Cases can be won or lost before you even set foot inside the courtroom.
Read more about Mary Beth Harrell