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INJURY TO A CHILD, AN ELDERLY PERSON, OR A DISABLED INDIVIDUAL

INJURY TO A CHILD, AN ELDERLY PERSON, OR A DISABLED INDIVIDUAL

Family Law:Family Protection & Welfare:Children

Family Law:Family Protection & Welfare:Elderly

A person commits the offense of injury to a child, an elderly person, or a disabled individual when the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes serious bodily injury or impairment to the child, the elderly person, or the disabled individual. The offense is also committed when the person fails to perform an act on behalf of the child, the elderly person, or the disabled individual, which failure results in the serious bodily injury or impairment of the child, the elderly person, or the disabled individual.

Failing to perform an act on behalf of a child, an elderly person, or a disabled individual occurs when a person has assumed care, custody, or control of the child, the elderly person, or the disabled individual or when the person has a legal duty to act on behalf of the child, the elderly person, or the disabled individual. The person assumes care, custody, or control when he or she causes a reasonable person to believe that he or she has accepted responsibility for food, shelter, medical care, and other needs of the child, the elderly person, or the disabled individual.

The definition of a child or an elderly person is a matter of state law. A child may be defined as a person who is 14 years of age or younger. An elderly person may be defined as a person who is 65 years of age or older. A disabled individual is a person who is unable to protect himself or herself because of a physical or a mental disease or injury.

In order to convict a defendant of injury to a child, an elderly person, or a disabled individual, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended serious bodily injury to result and not merely that the defendant intended an act, which act resulted in serious bodily injury. The prosecution must also prove a victim’s age or disabled status. If the defendant is being charged with failing to act, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had a legal duty to act.

The offense of causing injury to a child, an elderly person, or a disabled individual is normally classified as a felony.

There are several defenses to the offense of causing injury to a child, an elderly person, or a disabled individual. One defense is that a defendant’s act or the defendant’s failure to act was the result of reasonable medical care that was being provided under the direction of a physician or a medical practitioner. This defense is often used in cases involving religious practices and faith healing. Another defense is that the defendant’s failure to act was the result of an abusive family situation. However, the defendant must be a victim of family violence, must not have caused the serious bodily injury to the child, the elderly person, or the disabled individual, and must have reasonably believed that his or her failure to act would prevent serious injury to the child, the elderly person, or the disabled individual. An additional defense is that the failure to act occurred after the defendant notified in writing the parents, another responsible party, or a governmental agency that he or she would no longer assume responsibility for the child, the elderly person, or the disabled individual.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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