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Third Degree Child Abuse in Detroit

What is the Michigan Third Degree Child Abuse law?

MCL 750.136b(3)

Third Degree Child Abuse charges are extremely serious criminal charges and should not be taken lightly. If you are convicted of Third Degree Child Abuse, you will almost certainly receive a Jail sentence and may likely go to State Prison. The maximum Prison sentence for 3rd Degree Child Abuse is not more than 2 years. Third Degree Child Abuse also means you'll be listed on the Michigan Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry and identified as "perpetrator" or "perp."

DO NOT SAY A WORD TO THE POLICE! Talk with a Defense Attorney - immediately. Nothing can hurt your case more than your own words. Police will twist your words, misrepresent what you said, and "lose" audio and video evidence of your interrogation. Even when you repeatedly deny the Third Degree Child Abuse charges, your own words may still help get you convicted in some way.

If you are charged with Third Degree Child Abuse, you either already have or will be met with an intense investigation by Child Protective Service (CPS), a branch of the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS). While it can hurt you not to speak with CPS, any statements you make could be used against you in the Child Abuse, Third Degree case. Think of Child Protective Services as additional "police" on the case. While the Third Degree Child Abuse charges take place in Criminal Court, you will likely also face a Child Protective Proceeding (also called Abuse/Neglect case) in Civil Court, where the government is seeking either to get "jurisdiction" over you or even to terminate your parental rights completely and place your children in a foster home.

Prain Law, PLLC, is a Criminal Defense firm that centers its focus specifically on defending those accused of crimes involving some element of assault, such as Third Degree Child Abuse.

What is Third Degree Child Abuse in Michigan? How is Child Abuse, Third Degree defined?

The Michigan Third Degree Child Abuse law, MCL 750.136b(3), states:

"(3) 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.
(c) The child was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident.

(4) Child abuse in the third degree is a felony punishable by imprisonment as follows: (a) Not more than 2 years.

Additionally, the Prosecutor has to prove that you are either: the parent of the child, or someone who had "care or custody of or authority over the child when the abuse allegedly happened, regardless of the length of time the child was cared for by, in the custody of, or subject to the authority of that person." This is the same as other degrees of Child Abuse in Michigan.

Elements that Must be Proven to be Convicted of Third Degree Child Abuse in Michigan.

The Michigan Third Degree Child Abuse law, MCL 750.136b(3) is the most confusing of all of Michigan's Child Abuse laws. This is because reading the statute alone does not give the full picture of the law as it would be read to a Jury deciding your case if you went to Trial. To get the full picture, we must look at Third Degree Child Abuse Jury Instruction. Here are the theories of Third Degree Child Abuse:

  1. The Defendant either knowingly or intentionally caused harm to the child.
  2. The Defendant either knowingly or intentionally committed an act that under the circumstances posed an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to the child and the act resulted in physical harm
CLICK HERE for Brian J. Prain's related articles on Michigan Child Abuse Law...

What is the Defense of Parental Discipline to Third Degree Child Abuse Charges?

A person accused of Third Degree Child Abuse in Michigan may raise the defense of "Parental Discipline" under MCL 750.136b(9), which states:

"(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."

But this does not mean that any amount of force may be used. The law allows only force that is reasonable. What force is "reasonable" is up to a Jury to decide on a case-by-case basis. However, as long as there is some evidence of Parental Discipline as a defense, the accused is not required to prove that their actions were reasonable as discipline. The Prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force used was not reasonable as discipline. If they cannot, the accused is entitled to a verdict of NOT GUILTY of Third Degree Child Abuse.

What is the Defense of Reasonable Response to an Act of Domestic Violence to Third Degree Child Abuse Charges?

There is yet another defense that can be raised to these charges (in addition to Self-Defense, which is a complete defense to all crimes).

A person accused of Child Abuse, Third Degree in Michigan may also raise the defense of "Reasonable Response to Act of Domestic Violence" under MCL 750.136b(10), which states:

"(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."

However, unlike the defense of "Parental Discipline," the burden is on the defendant to prove this defense by a preponderance of the evidence. This means the evidence must persuade the Jury that it is more likely than not that the conduct was a reasonable response to an act of domestic violence, given all of the facts and circumstances known to the accused at the time. If the accused proves this by a preponderance of the evidence, they are entitled to a verdict of NOT GUILTY of Third Degree Child Abuse.

Does the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act ("HYTA") apply to Third Degree Child Abuse?

Yes, those who are convicted of Child Abuse, Third Degree are eligible forHYTA.

The Michigan Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, MCL 762.11, allows a person between age 17 and 21 (such as a young babysitter) to avoid being "convicted" and having a permanent record. To discuss this option if you are between age 17 and 21, contact a Michigan Child Abuse Defense Attorney.

What is the Sentence for Third Degree Child Abuse? Will I go to Jail or Prison for Third Degree Child Abuse in Michigan?

The Michigan Third Degree Child Abuse law makes it punishable by imprisonment for up to 2 years.

If convicted of Third Degree Child Abuse in Michigan under MCL 750.136b(3), you are likely to get Jail time or perhaps Prison time. Your actual Sentence will be a result the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines. Don't get convicted in the first place.

As awful as this is, you must remain focused on aggressively defending yourself against these charges by hiring the right Detroit domestic violence lawyer.

At Prain Law, PLLC, we concentrate on defending those accused of Assaultive crimes, including Michigan Third Degree Child Abuse in under MCL 750.136b(2).

Call Prain Law, PLLC anytime at (248) 731-4543. Need answers but unable to speak on the phone? Use our Contact Form.

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