Vulnerable Adult and Child Abuse
Child Abuse in Arizona – Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer
ARS 13-3623 – Vulnerable Adult and Child Abuse Law
ARS 13-3623 criminalizes the abuse of children and vulnerable adults. A person, who takes care of a child or adult, can’t allow harm to fall on the child or adult. A child is any person who is under 18 years of age, i.e. a minor. A vulnerable adult is a person over the age of 18 who cannot take care of themselves because of a mental or physical condition (a disability).
Arizona law makes clear that differing levels of abuse can be met with different penalties if convicted of this offense. The nature of the crime adds considerable severity to the potential consequences a court can hand down. The risk of death, or of serious bodily injury, can make the punishments for these crimes much more severe. Intentionality is also weighed by the courts.
Is Child Abuse a felony in Arizona?
All levels of Vulnerable Adult and Child Abuse in Arizona are felonies.
Abuse cases can arise when a person abuses a child or vulnerable adult, has custody or care of the child, and allows the abuse to occur, or causes a child or vulnerable adult to be placed in a situation where their life and health are endangered. If accused, you can be charged with three different offenses as follows:
- If the abuse is done intentionally or knowingly, it is charged as a Class 2 felony.
- If the victim is under fifteen years of age, then the offense qualifies for punishment under the Dangerous Crimes Against Children Statute. ARS 13-705.
- If the abuse is done recklessly, then the offense can be charged as a Class 3 felony.
- If the abuse is done with criminal negligence, then it can be charged as a Class 4 felony.
Mens rea, mental state, of recklessness means the accused must have been aware of, and consciously disregarded, a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the abuse would occur or that the circumstances existed where the abuse could occur. The risks must be of such a nature and degree that disregard of such risks constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.
Criminal negligence means that the accused failed to perceive a substantial and justifiable risk that the abuse will occur, and the failure to perceive the risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.
Possible Punishments for Child Abuse and Vulnerable Adult Abuse
Child Abuse cases involving situations unlikely to produce death or serious physical injury:
These are situations in which the circumstances were not likely to produce death or serious physical injury, however the child or vulnerable adult did suffer or could have suffered physical injury or abuse. The person who committed the abuse, or who allowed the abuse to occur, can be charged with varying offenses detailed below.
If it is done intentionally or knowingly, then the offense can be charged as a Class 4 felony. If it is done recklessly, then the offense can be charged as a Class 5 felony. If it is done with criminal negligence, then the offense can be charged as a Class 6 felony.
Abuse that was likely to produce death or serious physical injury and is against a child under the age of 15, and was committed Intentionally or Knowingly, is a Class 2 Felony. This is punishable under the Dangerous Crime Against Children statute. For a first offense, the defendant can be sentenced to anywhere from 10-24 years. If the defendant has one allegeable historical prior Dangerous Crime Against a Child conviction, then they face a range of 21-35 years in prison. If the defendant has two prior convictions for Dangerous Crimes Against a Child, they will be sentenced to life in prison.
If the Abuse was done Intentionally or Knowingly to an Elderly person, or to a Child aged fifteen or older, then it is a Class 2 felony. If this is their first offense they can receive probation or anywhere between 3 -12.5 years in prison. If the defendant has a prior felony offense, they face a range of 4.5 – 23.25 years in prison. If the person has two prior convictions, they face 10.5 – 35 years in prison.
Reckless Elder/Child Abuse cases are Class 3 felonies. For a first-time offense, they are eligible for probation but could get anywhere from 2-8.75 years in prison. If the person has a prior history of this offense they could face up to 25 years in prison.
Criminal Negligent Elder or Child Abuse is a Class 4 felony. The defendant could be eligible for probation if it is a first-time offense but also faces 1-3.75 years in prison. The maximum prison time a person could face for this offense is 15 years of prison, depending on their prior offenses.
Abuse cases not likely to produce death or serious physical injury but that were intentional are Class 4 felonies. The defendant could be eligible for probation if it is a first-time offense but also faces 1-3.75 years in prison.
Child abuse and vulnerable adult abuse cases involving an allegation the abuse was done recklessly is a Class 5 felony. For someone with no prior convictions, the sentencing range is 6 months to 2.5 years in prison, or probation. Maximum sentence time could be 7.5 years depending on allegeable historical prior convictions.
Abuse done with criminal negligence is a Class 6 felony. First-time offenders can be sentenced to four months up to two years in prison, or probation. If the person has one historical allegeable prior felony conviction they face nine months up to 2.75 years in prison. If the person has two historical allegeable prior felony convictions they face 2.25-5.75 years in prison.
Contact Us – Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer
Many of these charges include lesser included offenses. If the case is charged as the highest charge, which includes the maximum amounts of prison time within the statute, we first want to focus on showing that this was not intentional or knowing abuse. If the case is charged as reckless or negligent, we work with experts from throughout the country to show that a person did not grossly deviate from what would be acceptable in terms of the type of care provided to the child or adult following the incident, or to show that it is not reasonable to expect a person to stare and watch a child or adult every second of the day.
We investigate the facts of every single case by tracking down and interviewing witnesses. Sometimes these allegations are brought about by a person motivated to lie about what occurred, such as an angry or resentful ex-boyfriend or girlfriend.
We regularly handle child abuse and vulnerable adult abuse cases. We stay up to date with the current studies, literature, and investigative techniques for these cases. We seek out the best experts within the field to help juries understand the evidence in your case. Call today for a free consultation about your child abuse or vulnerable adult abuse case.