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Malicious punishment of a child charges in Minnesota are those directed at a parent, guardian, or caretaker. The charges typically result from the manner in which a child was disciplined. 

These charges can be a felony or gross misdemeanor. There is a lot of gray area in the definition of the crime itself. Facing a malicious punishment charge can be terrifying, especially if you feel you’ve done nothing wrong as a parent.

If you are facing charges for malicious punishment of a child, read on to understand your options.

Note that all charges can potentially be reduced or eliminated with the help of a criminal defense lawyer. We recommend contacting us right away if you have been charged with malicious punishment of a child.

How the Law Defines Malicious Punishment of a Child

In Minnesota, malicious punishment of a child is defined as follows:

A parent, legal guardian, or caretaker who, by an intentional act or a series of intentional acts with respect to a child, evidences unreasonable force or cruel discipline that is excessive under the circumstances

This definition would include child abuse. Malicious punishment of a child in Minnesota often depends on the particular circumstances surrounding the incident. The basis of the crime is using unreasonable force or cruel discipline on a child. What a court or jury would consider excessive force or cruel discipline may be different in different situations. 

Additionally, there are two other elements of the crime. The parent, guardian, or caretaker must have acted intentionally, and the force or cruelty must have been excessive. In other words, the state’s proof of this crime may not be as clear as it seems. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical in this situation.

Malicious Punishment of a Child Charges

Malicious punishment of a child in Minnesota can be either a gross misdemeanor or a felony. A gross misdemeanor is possible when the punishment results in “less than substantial bodily harm.” The charge may be enhanced to a felony in the following circumstances:

  • The child was under the age of four, and the punishment caused bodily harm to the  head, eyes, neck, or caused multiple bruises to the child’s body;
  • Punishment resulted in substantial bodily harm to the child;
  • Punishment resulted in great bodily harm to the child; or 
  • If the person charged committed the crime within five years after the end of their sentence or disposition from a conviction for a previous, specific crime (listed in the statute).

The state of Minnesota defines the various harms as follows:

  • Bodily harm: “physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition;”
  • Substantial bodily harm: “bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or which causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or which causes a fracture of any bodily member;”
  • Great bodily harm: “bodily injury which creates a high probability of death, or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or which causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ or other serious bodily harm.”

The penalties will depend on the specific charge.

Penalties for Malicious Punishment of a Child

For a gross misdemeanor charge of malicious punishment of a child, the person convicted can receive a sentence of jail time of one year or less, a fine of $3,000 or less, or both.

In the cases of felony to a child under four, a felony resulting in substantial bodily harm, or a prior conviction, the person convicted can receive a prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of $10,000, or both.

For a felony resulting in great bodily harm, the person convicted can receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.

Why Hiring an Attorney is Critical

Hiring an attorney for malicious punishment of a child charges is critical. As mentioned above, the particular circumstances are highly relevant to this crime. Additionally, there may be specific legal defenses available in your case that an experienced attorney can help you with.

An experienced criminal defense attorney in Minnesota will thoroughly investigate your case and mount the best defense possible.

Contact Arechigo & Stokka, P.A.

If you are facing charges for malicious punishment of a child, contact the experienced attorneys at Arechigo & Stokka, P.A. We offer free consultations and will assist you every step of the way. We have a history of success in reducing or eliminating all manner of criminal defense charges, including defending our clients in the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Contact us today to get started.

Author Photo

John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense.  He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime. John offers what very few other Twin Cities criminal defense lawyers can offer. His combination of experience, success, connections, resources, accessibility, and complete handling of a client’s file sets him apart from his colleagues.

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