Michigan criminal defense attorney

First Degree Child Abuse in Michigan: What You Need to Know

Child abuse charges in Michigan

It’s the kind of story you cringe to hear about or read in the news. A baby was taken to the hospital with a broken leg. A boyfriend is now facing criminal charges for child abuse.

This particular case is about 29-year-old Jonathan A. Show, who is being charged with single counts of second, third and fourth-degree child abuse and possession of marijuana.

The complaint came when the 7-month-old baby girl was taken to the hospital 3 or 4 days after the injury had occurred.

Show told detectives he had accidentally stepped on the baby’s leg.

The baby’s mother was working when the injury happened. Thankfully for the mother, the baby remains in her care.

That could very easily not have been the case for her. Did you know that in Michigan, your parental rights could be terminated without criminal child abuse charges ever having been brought against you?

In civil court, a caseworker for Health and Human Services and the subsequent judge could make that happen, and it does happen much more easily and frequently than you might think. Most people would say that’s a worse punishment than jail time.

However, what constitutes child abuse under Michigan law? According to Michigan legislation Section 750.136b:

First Degree Child Abuse in Michigan

First Degree:  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.

Second Degree Child Abuse in Michigan

Second Degree: A person is guilty of child abuse in the second degree if

  • 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.
  • The person knowingly or intentionally commits an act likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to a child regardless of whether harm results.
  • The person knowingly or intentionally commits an act that is cruel to a child regardless of whether harm results.

For a first offense, not more than 10 years. For a second or subsequent offense, not more than 20 years.

Third Degree Child Abuse in Michigan

Third Degree: A person is guilty of child abuse in the third degree if

  • The person knowingly or intentionally causes physical harm to a child.
  • 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.

Child abuse in the third degree is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years.

Fourth Degree Child Abuse in Michigan

Fourth Degree: A person is guilty of child abuse in the fourth-degree if any of the following apply:

  • The person’s omission or reckless act causes physical harm to a child.
  • 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.

Child abuse in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year.

Takeaway

In this instance, even though the baby’s leg was broken, police must have chosen to make a case for second, third, and fourth degree child abuse rather than first-degree. As you can see, Michigan law is one of the toughest on child abuse and neglect crimes.

Thankfully for the mother, her parental rights aren’t being threatened as a result of what happened. However, there is a provision for omission – that’s called neglect.

If you are ever in the same position as this mother, don’t wait to take your child to see a doctor. Even if you are afraid of the consequences. The act of waiting too long to seek medical attention can itself get you into trouble with the law.. This mother could have been charged as well.

Additionally, in the case of civil court as I mentioned above, if you are facing charges, your parental rights could be threatened or taken away without a trial. Make sure you have quality legal representation immediately. Call my office today.

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This article was published on: January 5, 2018 and was last modified January 7, 2018