Nevada laws designed to protect the safety of children are some of the most persistently enforced in the state. Law enforcement officers are adamant about arresting those accused of injuring, exploiting or harming children. The term child abuse often is used to describe several different scenarios, but what legally constitutes the offense?
According to Nevada Revised Statutes 432B.020, abuse or neglect of a child is defined as any physical or mental injury of a non-accidental nature, as well as sexual abuse or sexual exploitation. The law also states negligent treatment or maltreatment could be considered child abuse.
Physical abuse is one of the most common aspects of the offense. This often is what people imagine when the term is used. Generally, physical injury means the permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any bodily functions or organs, according to NRS 200.508(4)(d).
However, in a Nevada child abuse case, the term physical injury includes:
• A sprain or dislocation
• Damage to cartilage
• A bone or skull fracture
• An intracranial hemorrhage or injury to an internal organ
• Burn or scalding
• Cut, laceration, puncture or bite
Striking, hitting, punching, kicking or even spanking could cause some of these injuries. Spanking is one instance that could complicate child abuse allegations. Although parents have the right to discipline their children, several factors could be used to determine if the incident qualifies as child abuse.
For instance, what the adult used to spank the child, his or her age and how many times he or she was spanked all could be used to determine if criminal charges should apply. Additionally, law enforcement could use the parents’ criminal history and history of child abuse allegations to determine if the incident should be a criminal matter.
Sexual abuse and exploitation are more serious child abuse charges. Generally, this includes inappropriate touching, fondling and intercourse. Under NRS 432B.100, the term “sexual abuse” of a child can include the following acts:
• Lewdness with a child
• Sado-masochistic abuse
• Sexual assault
• Statutory sexual seduction
• Open or gross lewdness
• Mutilation of the genitalia of a female child
Sexual exploitation, according to NRS 432B.110, is defined as the forcing, allowing or encouraging of a child to solicit for or engage in prostitution or to view a pornographic film or literature. This law also includes engaging in the filming, photographing or recording any depiction of a child’s genitals or any sexual conduct with a child.
When a person is accused of any of these acts, he or she could face harsh criminal charges. For instance, if a person is accused of filming a minor engaged in a sexual act, the adult could face possession of child pornography charges as well as child abuse charges, depending on his or her particular situation.
Another aspect of child abuse is neglect. Negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child occurs if a child is without proper care, control and supervision, according to NRS 432B.140. This definition can include actions that may not necessarily result in physical or mental pain. Simply the parent or parents’ failure to act could constitute charges.
Some scenarios of neglect that could lead to child abuse charges include:
• Leaving the child abandoned
• Leaving a child without proper care, such as home with no food or heat
• No control or supervision of the child
• Lacking education or shelter
• Not providing medical care
• Lacking other care necessary for child’s well being
Additionally, if a person is aware of the abuse and he or she fails to report it, that person also could face criminal charges. Often times someone who fails to report child abuse committed by another in the home could face charges for the same offense. No matter the circumstances, if you are facing child abuse charges, a criminal defense lawyer can help you better understand your situation and options.
Michael Pariente is a criminal defense attorney with more than a decade of experience fighting for the rights of clients facing criminal charges. He is a former prosecutor and former public defender who now helps clients throughout state and federal court. Pariente is the founder of The Pariente Law Firm, a Las Vegas-based firm that helps clients with child abuse cases, drug charges, domestic violence, DUI offenses, marijuana crimes and more.