Section 750.136b - Michigan Legislature
750.136b Definitions; child abuse; degrees; penalties; exception; affirmative defense
Child abuse may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor offense in the state of Michigan, depending on whether an individual is charged with first-, second-, third-, or fourth-degree child abuse. Any individual, whether a parent, teacher, member of the clergy, or other person who may be responsible for a child's health and welfare, may be found guilty of child abuse when a child is physically or mentally harmed in a manner that is non-accidental, according to Michigan law.
There are various degrees of child abuse with which an individual may be charged. These include:
First-degree child abuse. Evidence of broken bones, internal injuries, or brain damage inflicted intentionally by a parent may lead to charges of first-degree child abuse.
Second-degree child abuse. When a parent or guardian behaves in a reckless or cruel manner, neglect's a child's basic needs or fails to provide a child with adequate care and does so willfully, he or she may be charged with second-degree child abuse.
Third-degree child abuse. A parent or guardian who intentionally or knowingly inflicts some physical harm to a child may be charged with third-degree child abuse.
Fourth-degree child abuse. A parent or guardian who willfully fails to provide a child's basic needs (food, shelter, clothing), who abandons a child, or commits a reckless act which results in some physical harm to a child may be charged with fourth-degree child abuse.
First-degree child abuse is a Class A felony for which the maximum punishment if convicted is life in prison according to Michigan sentencing guidelines. Second-degree child abuse is a Class C felony for a first-time offender; the maximum penalty for a conviction is 10 years. Third-degree child abuse is a Class G felony with a maximum prison term of two years. Fourth-degree child abuse is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail.
In addition to possible jail or prison time, individuals convicted of child abuse in Michigan will have a criminal record, which may impact current or future employment. In some circumstances, child abuse may be reported to CPS (Children's Protective Services), an agency that investigates allegations of child abuse. Parental rights may be terminated.
Criminal offenses related to child abuse include:
Experience and Success:
There are a variety of strategies used by a defense attorney, which may prove to be effective and protect your innocence. Charges and the resulting criminal penalties may seem severe, however there are instances in which criminal charges may be reduced based on mitigating factors and the specifics of your case. Occasionally a defendant wishes to seek post-conviction relief and may choose to appeal a conviction or sentence.
THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT)
Act 328 of 1931
(1) As used in this section:
(a) "Child" means a person who is less than 18 years of age and is not emancipated by operation of law as provided in section 4 of 1968 PA 293, MCL 722.4.
(b) "Cruel" means brutal, inhuman, sadistic, or that which torments.
(c) "Omission" means a willful failure to provide food, clothing, or shelter necessary for a child's welfare or willful abandonment of a child.
(d) "Person" means a child's parent or guardian or any other person who cares for, has custody of, or has authority over a child regardless of the length of time that a child is cared for, in the custody of, or subject to the authority of that person.
(e) "Physical harm" means any injury to a child's physical condition.
(f) "Serious physical harm" means any physical injury to a child that seriously impairs the child's health or physical well-being, including, but not limited to, brain damage, a skull or bone fracture, subdural hemorrhage or hematoma, dislocation, sprain, internal injury, poisoning, burn or scald, or severe cut.
(g) "Serious mental harm" means an injury to a child's mental condition or welfare that is not necessarily permanent but results in visibly demonstrable manifestations of a substantial disorder of thought or mood which significantly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life.
(2) A person is guilty of child abuse in the first degree if the person knowingly or intentionally causes serious physical or serious mental harm to a child. Child abuse in the first degree is a felony punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of years.
(3) A person is guilty of child abuse in the second degree if any of the following apply:
(a) The person's omission causes serious physical harm or serious mental harm to a child or if the person's reckless act causes serious physical harm or serious mental harm to a child.
(b) The person knowingly or intentionally commits an act likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to a child regardless of whether harm results.
(c) The person knowingly or intentionally commits an act that is cruel to a child regardless of whether harm results.
(4) Child abuse in the second degree is a felony punishable by imprisonment as follows:
(a) For a first offense, not more than 10 years.
(b) For a second or subsequent offense, not more than 20 years.
(5) A person is guilty of child abuse in the third degree if any of the following apply:
(a) The person knowingly or intentionally causes physical harm to a child.
(b) The person knowingly or intentionally commits an act that under the circumstances poses an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to a child, and the act results in physical harm to a child.
(6) Child abuse in the third degree is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years.
(7) A person is guilty of child abuse in the fourth degree if any of the following apply:
(a) The person's omission or reckless act causes physical harm to a child.
(b) The person knowingly or intentionally commits an act that under the circumstances poses an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to a child, regardless of whether physical harm results.
(8) Child abuse in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year.
(9) This section does not prohibit a parent or guardian, or other person permitted by law or authorized by the parent or guardian, from taking steps to reasonably discipline a child, including the use of reasonable force.
(10) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this section that the defendant's conduct involving the child was a reasonable response to an act of domestic violence in light of all the facts and circumstances known to the defendant at that time. The defendant has the burden of establishing the affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence. As used in this subsection, "domestic violence" means that term as defined in section 1 of 1978 PA 389, MCL 400.1501.
History: Add. 1988, Act 251, Eff. Sept. 1, 1988 ;-- Am. 1999, Act 273, Eff. Apr. 3, 2000 ;-- Am. 2008, Act 577, Eff. Apr. 1, 2009 ;-- Am. 2012, Act 194, Eff. July 1, 2012
Compiler's Notes: Section 4 of Act 251 of 1988 provides: “All proceedings pending and liabilities existing at the time this amendatory act takes effect are saved and may be prosecuted according to the law in force when they are commenced pursuant to section 4a of chapter 1 of the Revised Statutes of 1846, being section 8.4a of the Michigan Compiled Laws.” Enacting section 1 of Act 194 of 2012 provides:" Enacting section 1. This amendatory act shall be known and may be cited as "Dominick's Law"."