Child Neglect in Oklahoma: What You Need to Know
Child neglect falls under the umbrella of the child abuse laws in Oklahoma. Oklahoma has a number of statutes regarding child abuse and there is some overlap between them. This is to ensure that Oklahoma prosecutors have a lot of discretion regarding the charging and prosecution of offenders. To understand child neglect, you need to understand child abuse under the law.
Child Abuse Encompasses Child Neglect
In Oklahoma, child abuse is defined as the willful or malicious threatened or actual harm to a child, or the failure to protect a child from real or threatened harm to their health, safety, or welfare. This definition is quite broad and encompasses all sorts of injury to children. The harm can be physical, mental or emotional, and it includes willfully or maliciously injuring, torturing, or maiming a child. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 843.5.
The harm or threatened harm is non-accidental. Okla. Stat. tit. 10A § 1-1-105. This is an important distinction under the law. In order to be prosecuted for child abuse, the harm done must be either willful or malicious. Accidental harm to a child may be prosecuted under a charge of reckless endangerment, but not under the child abuse statutes.
While this statute encompasses major trauma to a child, it can also include such things as starving a child, preventing adequate health care when it is needed and hitting or striking a child. It can also include mental or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and abandonment.
The law specifically includes neglect and defines it as the failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care, supervision or other necessities of life.
Neglect can grow out of a number of difficult family dynamics and situations, most notably in situations involving drug and alcohol abuse. In these households, neglect can result from increased time away from parenting due to searching out and using the substance, decreased funds being spent on the care and nurturing of a child, or impairments to the parents or child as a result of the intoxication. This can result in malnutrition, inadequate healthcare and supervision, poor hygiene, and school truancy.
A parent or other person who willfully or maliciously engages in child neglect and is convicted can be sentenced to imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for life, or up to 1 year in the county jail, or a fine of $500 to $5000, or both imprisonment and a fine. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 843.5.
Likewise, it is against the law to enable the neglect of a child. Enabling neglect is defined as causing, procuring or permitting a willful or malicious act of neglect upon a child. “Permitting” the neglect of a child is defined as to authorizing or allowing a person you reasonably know or should know will or may place your child at risk for neglect. Enabling neglect carries the same penalty as perpetuating the neglect.
If you are facing charges, you will need the help of an experienced child neglect lawyer to build a strong defense.
Confidential Consultation: Muskogee Lawyer
Get help when you need it most. Work with an experienced child neglect lawyer in Muskogee, Oklahoma, to protect your freedom and to get the help you and your family need. Contact us today at (918) 884-7774.