Can the state charge a parent for being an accomplice to child abuse? 39 Answers as of June 23, 2013

When one parent abuses a child, can the state charge the other parent as accomplice? What are your thoughts on this issue?

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Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
In theory yes. In practice it depends on all the facts and circumstances.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/28/2011
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
I would recommend retaining an attorney for this matter. This response does not contain specific legal advice. If you need specific legal advice, you should consult with an attorney. Speaking generally, yes, the State can charge a parent as being an accomplice to child abuse. However, simply because a person is charged does not mean that they will ultimately be convicted. Anyone charged is presumed innocent until proven guilty and the prosecutor needs to prove any such allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Child abuse allegations may also draw the attention of DHS or other state protective service agencies, which means that hiring an effective attorney may be vital not only in a pending criminal case but to ensure that a person retains their parental rights as well.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/6/2011
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
Yes it is possible for this to occur. The factual circumstances would be important to determine if there was another person who could be held responsible for a criminal act in addition to the actual perpetrator.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 9/21/2011
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
Yes. Allowing abuse to occur with knowledge could result in criminal charges as well as a child protection action to remove the children from that parent's care.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 9/20/2011
Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre
Law Office of Jonathan T. Sarre | Jonathan T. Sarre
That's a complicated issue but it happens all the time. On one hand it makes sense since parents often act in concert in child raising. But the other side of the coin is that often the parent doing the abusing is also abusive to the spouse as well. Even if the abused spouse is also abusive to the children, there can also be issues in that the other parent is acting under duress and not participating voluntarily.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 9/19/2011
    D T Pham Associates, PLLC
    D T Pham Associates, PLLC | Duncan T Pham
    Yes, given sufficient evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/23/2013
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    It depends upon the particular facts. If the facts of the case justify it, then absolutely the other parent can be charged. Knowing that the abuse is taking place and not doing anything about it can very well be a crime.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Gerald E. Smith
    Law Office of Gerald E. Smith | Gerald E. Smith
    The State (Prosecution Agency) can always file on the other parent as an accomplish (or aider and abettor) but it doesn't necessarily mean they will prevail. I deal with the DA's office doing this all the time. It may require that the non-offending parent take it to trial in order to prevail. Also, as is common, each case is unique and an attorney can not guarantee the out come.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
    Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
    Yes, there is a charge for failing to prevent an "injurious environment." So, if one parent actively abuses a child and the other parent turns a blind eye, the second parent can be charged. The charge is only a class two misdemeanor.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    If the other parent was or should have been aware of the abuse then they too can be charged.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    The police or prosecutors can charge the other parent if they are aware of the abuse and do nothing to prevent it or keep the other parent away from the child. They will be charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in Criminal Court and Child Abuse in Family Court. The children will be placed in foster care until the matter is resolved.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    The other parent could be charged as an accomplice if they aided or abetted before, during or after the fact. If the other parent knew what was happening, and took no action to prevent same, they can be charged under the complicancy statute.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    Not likely as long in the parent didn't do anything to actively contribute to the abuse, but if the other parent knew of the abuse, didn't do anything to prevent it, or put the child in dangerous situations where the abuse occurred, they could be charged with neglect.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/20/2011
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    Yes. The State can claim the other parent, through neglect, failed to protect the minor children and charge directly or as you state an "accomplice" (Principal theory).
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We recommend you see a criminal attorney ASAP, because, generally, there are some cases which, based upon the facts, both parents could be charged. So, see a lawyer about your rights, soon. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Whether a person could be charged as an accomplice would depend on the facts and the involvement of the other parent. Another possibility is the other parent could be named in a child protective proceeding for failing to protect the child.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    You can only be charged as an accomplice in a child abuse case if you aided, abetted, or assisted the offender in committing the crime.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    It is possible, but it is very rare for this to happen. Usually a parent is charged for a direct act of child abuse or isn't charged at all.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Bensmochan & Poghosyan, LLP
    Bensmochan & Poghosyan, LLP | Ruzanna Poghosyan
    Absolutely! Under California's "accomplice liability" or "aiding and abetting" laws anyone who with knowledge of the unlawful purpose of the wrongdoer commits, encourages, facilitates, aids, promotes or instigates the commission of the crime is criminally liable and will generally face the same criminal charges as the direct wrongdoer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger
    Law Office of James A Schoenberger | James A Schoenberger
    Yes. If the other parent in any way facilitated the abuse they can be charged.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/23/2013
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    It depends on what the other parent's role is in the matter. It's possible, but more facts would be needed. If the other parent is participating somewhere, knowingly allowing the abuse to continue without taking any action or voluntarily turning a blind eye, it is possible that they could be charged as well. Seek out an attorney and go over the case in more detail for a more adequate answer.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of James S. Lochead
    Law Office of James S. Lochead | James S. Lochead
    Yes if it can be proven that the other party knew what was going on and failed to report it and take other measures to keep the child safe.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    It depends on the conduct and the intent of the second parent. When one person engages in conduct which constitutes an offense, another is criminally liable for such conduct when, acting with the state of mind required for the commission of that offense, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or intentionally aids such person to engage in such conduct. This is known as acting in concert and would probably be the worst case scenario because the second parent could be charged with all of the charges as the abusive parent. Even if the second parent's conduct doesn't meet this standard, there may be other charges they could face such as Reckless Endangerment and Endangering the welfare of a child. Legal disclaimer: All answers are for information purposes only. Answering this question or any future questions does not form any attorney-client relationship. Be mindful, that answers are limited by the limited facts presented by the questioner and are not meant to take the place of competent legal advice by an attorney fully informed of all the facts surrounding your case. However, be aware that nothing posted in a public forum such as this can be deemed confidential or privileged communication.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    Short answer is yes. They should only do this if they can show that both parents are involved in the abuse. Involvement could be actively partaking in the abuse or knowing of the abuse and not stopping it or reporting it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    If the second parent did nothing while the acting parent was abusing the child, and of course, had or should have known the crime was being committed, then of course, that parent is culpable and can be charged with child abuse, just like the actual abusing parent. It is his responsibility to stop the abuser, or to report the abusive parent to law enforcement authorities.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    The more likely scenario is that the other parent could be charged with negligence and child endangerment for not stopping the abuse. To be an accomplice requires an agreement to commit an illegal act.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    There is actually a legal definition of "accomplice." As accomplice is one who aids, abets, encourages, commands, facilitates or otherwise 'helps' the defendant. Mere presence at the scene of a crime doesn't make one an accomplice. On the other hand, if the other parent does nothing and the child is harmed repeatedly, that could be criminal neglect.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Laguzzi Law, P.C.
    Laguzzi Law, P.C. | Carina Laguzzi
    Yes. I have had clients charged when they are the parent that did "nothing to stop the abuse." Under the conspiracy theory, they are just as gully as the abusive parent and the jury can find them guilty.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    It depends on the circumstances but conceivably yes. Each parent has duty to protect htd child and if one lets the abuse go on and does nothing they could be charged.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    Yes. If the parent was aware that his/her child was being abused by his/her spouse, they have a duty to stop the violence. A parent cannot stand by as their child is being physically abused.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    Yes the other parent can and usually is charged either as an accomplice or a separate and distinct charge of failing to protect.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Depending on the facts, yes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/23/2013
    Keyser Law Firm
    Keyser Law Firm | Christopher W. Keyser
    Because both persons charged are parents of the allegedly abused child, the State will probably charge both parents with child abuse rather than charging one of the parents as an accomplice.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    Yep. You have a duty as a parent to report the other. Same thing as in sexual abuse, you commit a crime by knowing and not telling. I'd warn the other parent, and then absolutely go straight to CPS.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    John Segelbaum, P.S.
    John Segelbaum, P.S. | John Segelbaum
    Accomplice liability requires proof that one party aided or abetted or another party in theocmmission of a crime. Both are then equally liable. One parent could assist or encourage the other to commit abuse.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    The state can charge the parent who does not actually abuse the child with failure to report the abuse, failure to obtain medical treatment, and if the person stands as a lookout or in some manner covers up the abuse - it is possible to charge them as an accomplice. I do not see it being any different than a person who stands as a looking while shoplifting is occurring and they get charged all the time.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 9/16/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    If they can prove you knew about it and did nothing to stop it, yesyou can be charged. However, it is unlikely. Get the abuser out of your life.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/16/2011
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