Child Physical Abuse: Defense Attorney in Tucson, Arizona

Merely Being the Custodian of a Child Who is Abused Can Result in the Same Penalty as that for the Actual Abuser

Arizona statute 13-3623 defines child abuse as follows:

A.  Under circumstances likely to produce death or serious physical injury, any person who causes a child or vulnerable adult to suffer physical injury, or, having the care or custody of a child or vulnerable adult, who causes or permits the person or health of the child or vulnerable adult to be injured or who causes or permits a child or vulnerable adult to be placed in a situation where the person or health of the child or vulnerable adult is endangered is guilty of an offense as follows:

  1. If done intentionally or knowingly, the offense is a class 2 felony and if the victim is under fifteen years of age it is punishable pursuant to § 13-705.
  2. If done recklessly, the offense is a class 3 felony.
  3. If done with criminal negligence, the offense is a class 4 felony.

The Abuse Statute Lets Prosecutors Force Defendants to Try Each Other

When a child is harmed in a home and the state is uncertain whether the mother or father actually caused the injuries, the state will charge both parents under A.R.S. Sec. 13-3623.  Since convictions for not protecting the child from the abuse are identical to actually abusing the child, the state indicts both parents, tries them together and hopes each parent will point the finger at the other.  This obviously simplifies the state’s task and virtually guarantees convictions.


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The Penalties for Serious Physical Injury to a Child Under 15 Are Mandatory and Lengthy

Like child sexual offenses, child abuse convictions carry mandatory prison sentences that are extremely lengthy.  The most serious child abuse convictions can range up to 27 years of imprisonment.

What Makes Child Abuse Cases So Difficult

The complexity of defending child abuse cases arises from a variety of factors:

  1. The extreme emotional reaction of people investigating and prosecuting the cases;
  2. The likelihood emotions will cause the authorities to reach premature conclusions as to the guilt of the accused;
  3. The use of “syndrome evidence” by the prosecutors which has the effect of establishing an accused’s guilt in the face of compelling evidence of innocence;
  4. The difficulty in severing the cases of the charged individuals so the prosecutor isn’t able to use one defendant’s lawyer as “the second prosecutor” against the second defendant.


Tucson criminal defense lawyer Richard L. Lougee has represented clients since 1980 in cases alleging child abuse.  He understands how such cases are prosecuted and the strategies and techniques needed to defend them successfully.