Brief Fact Summary. Appellee was charged with child abuse for failing to prevent future acts of abuse by her husband whom she knew to be abusing their two kids. The State appealed a dismissal of the charges.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A parent has a duty to act when the parent knowingly acts in disregard of the facts giving rise to the duty to act or protect their child.
Issue. Whether a mother can be prosecuted for child abuse for failure to act to stop it.
Held. A parent who fails to take any action to stop child abuse can be prosecuted as a principal under the statute.
The State does not limit its application to individuals that directly inflict the abuse, it also covers situations where a person has a duty toward a child exposes the child to a foreseeable risk of abuse.
A person may be found guilty of an offense when his omission to act produced a specific result if the person has a legal duty to act and when he can physically perform the act.
When a special relationship exists between persons, social policy may impose a duty to protect and this would be considered a sufficient legal duty.
The parent must knowingly act in disregard of the facts giving rise to a duty to protect and act.
A statute is ambiguous if reasonable persons could disagree as to its meaning.View Full Point of Law