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Physical abuse of a child: intentionally causing bodily harm is a felony in Wisconsin.

Physical abuse of a child: intentionally causing bodily harm is a Class H felony in Wisconsin.  That means that upon conviction, you face a maximum penalty of 6 years in prison, fines of up to $10,000.00 or both.  Certainly the aggravated penalties for this charge should encourage you to find an aggressive, intelligent criminal defense lawyer for your case.

At Meyer Van Severen, S.C. we regularly defend individuals facing child abuse charges.  Our criminal defense attorneys specialize in defending individuals accused of violating the law.  We certainly recognize the shame, frustration, and pain that you’re experiencing.  Our criminal defense attorneys certainly prepare for any possibility in your case.  If you’re looking to fight your case all the way to jury trial, we have your back.

Contact our criminal defense attorneys about your child abuse case today.  We answer phones 24/7, and our defense attorneys regularly work nights and weekends.  We’d certainly like to help you navigate the difficult situation you’re in.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202.

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What is physical abuse of a child: intentionally causing great bodily harm?

Section 948.03(2)(b) of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits physical abuse of a child: intentionally causing great bodily harm.  The law indicates:

(b) Whoever intentionally causes bodily harm to a child is guilty of a Class H felony.
While some laws are certainly difficult for the layperson to understand this charge is not.  It’s straightforward and does not use many technical legal words. That being said, the terms intentionallybodily harm, and child are important to understand.
Let’s take a look at an example of this crime.  The defendant takes off his belt and hits his child with the belt.  Eventually, the defendant’s spouse finds the marks from the belt whooping and reports the defendant to police.  The child is under 18 years old.  The defendant intentionally hit the child with the belt.  And finally, the belt caused the child both injury and marks.  This example certainly satisfies the definition of this offense.

What are the elements of this offense?

All crimes in Wisconsin break down into a small number of parts.  This certainly makes them easier to understand for juries.  Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 2109 provides the elements of this crime:

  • Firstly, the defendant caused bodily harm to the victim; and
  • Secondly, the defendant intentionally caused bodily harm; and
  • Finally, the victim had not attained the age of 18 years at the time of the alleged offense.  (This is an important one – no definition of child is required.  The law simply requires the victim be under 18 years old at the time of the offense.)

Secondly, let’s talk through some of those definitions:

Bodily harm means physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.  Certainly the example we provided above satisfies the bodily harm requirement: the child suffered pain from the belt whooping, and the child suffered from welts.

Intentionally requires that the defendant had the mental purpose to cause bodily harm to the victim, or was aware that his conduct was practically certain to cause the result.

A brown leather belt
Frequently, belt whoopings result in physical abuse of a child: intentionally causing bodily injury charges. To speak with one of our criminal defense lawyers, contact Meyer Van Severen, S.C. at (414) 270-0202.

How do we defend my child abuse case?

Child abuse cases involving simple bodily harm present a relatively low bar for the prosecution.  Simply put, they must show the defendant meant to do something to a child, and it caused nothing more than pain.  But the case we just described shouldn’t be a felony, right?  Fortunately for defendants in the criminal justice system, prosecutors maintain some discretion when charging criminal cases.  If you have no record, and the case simply involves pain, there’s a good chance the government will be willing to reduce your charges to misdemeanors, or even offer you a deferred prosecution agreement.

Secondly, parents do possess the right to reasonably discipline their children.  Section 939.45(5)(b) of the Wisconsin Statutes describes the parental privilege, which allows for certain individuals to discipline the child:

(b) When the actor’s conduct is reasonable discipline of a child by a person responsible for the child’s welfare. Reasonable discipline may involve only such force as a reasonable person believes is necessary. It is never reasonable discipline to use force which is intended to cause great bodily harm or death or creates an unreasonable risk of great bodily harm or death.

There are certainly many ways to defend any criminal case.  At your free initial consultation, one of our criminal defense attorneys will begin to plan appropriate defenses to your charges.

Finally, call our criminal defense lawyers

The criminal defense lawyers at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. certainly want to begin discussing your criminal case.  No matter the charge you’re facing, we can certainly help you defend against the allegations.

Child abuse charges are incredibly important to defend against.  A child abuse conviction carries negative stigmas that will stick with you throughout the rest of your life.  Challenging these accusations with the assistance of a top criminal defense attorney puts you on the best track moving forward.

We answer phone calls 24/7.  Call us at (414) 270-0202. Let’s start fighting your case.