CR - Christina RivenBark & Associates Attorneys At Law
Free Consultation
Representing in Wilmington, NC & South Eastern North Carolina
Email Us Now

Parent's disciplinary action turns into child abuse charge

Although readers might readily agree that parenting methods change with each generation, a recent court ruling indicates how far attitudes about physical disciplining and/or punishment of children have shifted.

A woman was recently charged with felony child cruelty for an alleged spanking of her 6-year-old daughter with a leather belt. A plea bargain resulted in the charges being reduced to misdemeanor assault and battery. In addition, the judge did not impose the conviction. The case will be dismissed if the woman avoids further criminal charges in the next two years.

Although some parents may still rely on occasional physical disciplining of children, the distinguishing feature of this story may be the use of a leather belt. The prosecutor assigned to the case apparently shared that view, citing the use of the belt as the difference between punishment and child abuse.

However, a criminal defense attorney might caution that a simple description cannot adequately describe criminal evidence. Without seeing the actual item, readers might be tempted to imagine it along the lines of a weapon, instead of a mere fashion accessory. Although the alleged belt spanking also left bruises, that outcome might be equally possible with a hand spanking.

Another potentially troubling aspect about the way this case was handled is the phone referral that alerted authorities to the alleged domestic violence. The child’s father made the call. However, he is also reportedly estranged from his wife. An attorney might question whether the father could be a credible witness to authorities, given the troubled state of his marital relationship.

Source:, “Judge bars mother from spanking her daughter,” Keith Epps, Sept. 18, 2013

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information