Reasonable and Restrained Spanking is Legal
Spanking your child has been a debated subject for decades. If your parental discipline is being investigated, you need to retain counsel immediately to protect yourself and your family.
When to Seek Representation If You’ve Spanked Your Child
Children, ex-spouses, and others do not hesitate to report instances of parental discipline to the police. Motives can range from genuine concern to nefarious purposes, such as gaining an advantage in a parental custody fight or a child claiming abuse to try and get out of trouble. Sometimes, teachers, school administrators, or neighbors over-react or wrongfully assume child abuse when they see bruises or scratches on a child. Is spanking your child illegal in Michigan? The answer depends on the circumstances, and an experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights.
Unfortunately, we now live in a new age where nearly everything you do in public can be instantly recorded and uploaded to various Internet streams or turned over to law enforcement. Newscasts, web posts, and social media will often target a parent or guardian as abusive if they are seen in public reprimanding their child with a spanking. Neighbors won’t hesitate to report you because they witnessed you giving your toddler a swat on their backside. Your teenage child could act out for unknown reasons and tell school officials that her parents had struck her. There could be countless reasons you could find yourself facing a criminal charge related to Child Abuse or Domestic Violence for spanking. If you have been contacted by a Police Department, Child Protective Services, or any other person or agency regarding spanking or other corporal punishment, get in touch with a qualified Michigan criminal defense attorney before you do anything else.
There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Viewpoint on Spanking
There are many opinions on this topic, and there is no clear-cut answer as to whether or not spanking, also known as corporal punishment, is an acceptable form of discipline for a child. Some parents do not believe in ever placing their hands on their children as a form of punishment and would instead find a different method to address the inappropriate conduct. Other parents are adamant that using spanking as a form of correction in the child’s early years is the optimal way to avoid discipline issues during the young adult years. Unfortunately, when married or divorced parents have opposing views, it can be a recipe for disaster.
Are You Allowed to Spank Your Child?
The short answer is yes, but only if the force is reasonable. In Michigan, spanking and other forms of physical discipline are legal. The limit used in criminal court is “unreasonable” force. What force is reasonable or unreasonable? There are vast differences of opinion among parents, prosecutors, and judges. Unfortunately, reasonable and thoughtful physical punishment can be viewed as a crime by a police officer, prosecutor, or judge who opposes corporal punishment or has delicate sensibilities. This is why it is critical to have a formidable criminal defense attorney speak on your behalf.
Although it is not illegal to use an object to hit the child, the odds of criminal charges are significantly higher when a parent spanks a child with an object, like a belt, a wooden spoon, a shoe, a branch, or any other object. Although this form of discipline may have been prevalent in the past, the standard of acceptable spanking has changed. In many cases, the government now takes the position that spanking your child is illegal in Michigan. Additionally, the government is routinely filing felony charges, called Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, against parents who use objects for physical discipline.
Spanking Versus Child Abuse
The punishment is frequently considered child abuse when there is evidence of an injury. Child abuse in Michigan means nonaccidental, physical, or mental harm to a child by any person responsible for the child’s health or welfare. Parents that have experienced spanking punishments by a belt or a “switch” in their childhood may genuinely believe it is a suitable way to discipline their children because that is all they’ve ever known, and it “was good enough for them.” So, it’s pretty easy to see that what might be considered old-fashioned routine discipline can quickly escalate to a contemporary child abuse charge. A prosecutor’s personal disdain for corporal punishment does not make spanking your child illegal in Michigan; however, it might mean that you have to defend yourself even if you’ve used reasonable, thoughtful physical discipline.
Spanking Can and Will Be Used against You
Doctors, teachers, daycare workers, and such are obligated to report any hint of child abuse to police agencies and Child Protective Services (CPS). It will be challenging to tell your side of the story at this time. You must not talk with police or CPS until you talk with a qualified criminal defense attorney. Do not be fooled into thinking they only want your side of the story, and they will go away. Even if you did nothing wrong, your words can be twisted or misunderstood by police and ultimately make you more likely to be charged. Anything you say “can and will be used against you.” Despite what you may think, the function of the police is to collect evidence and build cases. They are not ministers of justice.
Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Charges Need an Aggressive Defense
Many people view spanking as a form of child abuse that needs investigation and punishment. An innocent person can be charged with child abuse. If you are convicted of child abuse or domestic violence because of spanking, you may face:
- jail or prison,
- years of probation,
- court-ordered therapy and anger management counseling,
- limited contact with your children,
- loss of custody or visitation,
- huge fines and costs, and much more.
Michigan Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys
Because of the possible severe consequences, allegations of abusive spanking must be taken seriously. The best way for you to protect yourself and your child is to hire an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to fight this battle with you. Even if you have not been contacted by any officials yet and are worried that you may be in trouble for spanking your child, consult with the specialists at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. We can set you up for a free consultation if you call us today. We have had unparalleled success in defending child abuse and domestic violence allegations. We will not stop until we find a way to help you.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.