Battery against another individual, such as punching another person without a justification like self-defense can expose a person to criminal charges.  Similarly, the act of engaging in criminally negligent or reckless conduct that causes injury to a child also constitutes a crime in most states. However, virtually all states including Florida provide an exception for reasonable corporal punishment of a child.  These cases are challenging because conduct that might have been reasonable 25 years ago might not be considered reasonable in terms of social norms today.

Peterson reportedly indicated that he used a “switch” to spank his child, which he claims is the way he was commonly disciplined as a child.  This might well be true because 25 years ago, the use of a “switch”, a belt or a ruler across the knuckles might have seemed like a typical means of imposing discipline. Some people are appalled by the photos made public in media reports revealing laceration across the legs of the four-year-old.  However, there also are many people troubled by the prosecutor’s decision to pursue criminal charges because of a parent’s decision to use corporal punishment on his child.  Unless the case is settled prior to trial, the jury will be asked to decide whether the use of the switch constitutes “reasonable” discipline or child abuse resulting in injury to the child.

Tampa child abuse defense attorney Marc A. Joseph provides tenacious defense to charges of child abuse or child endangerment.  For a free consultation, we invite you to call us at (813) 234-6374, so we can start fighting for your future.