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Recent Virginia Child Abuse Cases Highlight Difficulties of Child Abuse and Neglect Cases in Virginia

by J.D. Garrett on September 10, 2013

Child abuse and child neglect cases are never cut and dry. Often involving high levels of emotion, sadness, fear and anger, child abuse and neglect cases are difficult for all parties involved. This summer, the news has highlighted several tragic child abuse cases in Virginia. These cases demonstrate the complexities of child abuse and neglect cases, and child abuse and neglect laws, in Virginia.

The first case occurred last November in Virginia Beach. Myfox8.com reports that two-year-old Garrett King, a spunky young boy with bright gold curls, was killed as a result of a skull fracture, after his babysitter allegedly slammed him onto the floor several times. The 35-year-old babysitter, Brenda Garner, admitted to law enforcement that she had become angry while changing Garrett’s diaper, and, as a result stood him up and swept him onto the floor several times. He hit his head, which caused the skull fracture and brain damage, as well as nerve damage.

Ms. Garner was convicted of second degree murder and child abuse in mid-August of this year. She could ultimately face up to 50 years in prison for the death and abuse of the young boy, and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 16, 2013.

The second case comes out of Bluefield, Virginia. There, according to WVVA.com, a 6-month-old baby girl was reported by authorities to have received severe head trauma while she was cared for by her mother. The young child also had a cigarette burn on her forearm.

The baby girl’s mother, 25-year-old Jessica Mae Young, has three other children. Two of those children were removed from Ms. Young’s care while she resided in Arizona. The baby girl in question is the third of Ms. Young’s children to suffer from severe head trauma.

Ms. Young pleaded guilty to felony child abuse for abusing the youngest of her third children, the 6-month-old baby girl, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. On September 5, the Tazewell County Circuit Court Judge suspended Ms. Young’s entire sentence, except for four years. She will now serve those four years in prison.

Child Abuse: The Law in Virginia

As demonstrated by the two recent cases above, child abuse cases are tough. In Virginia, child abuse cases are vigorously prosecuted, and may result in a felony conviction with jail time and other penalties. Under Code of Virginia  18.2-371.1, any parent, guardian, or other person that is responsible for caring for a child that is under 18-year-old is guilty of a Class 4 felony if he or she willfully acts or fails to act, or refuses to provide necessary care for the child’s health, or causes or permits a serious injury to the life or health of the child. “Serious injuries” for the purposes of the law, include disfigurement, a fracture, a severe burn or laceration, mutilation, maiming, forced ingestion of dangerous substances, or life-threatening internal injuries.

Additionally, a  willful act or omission in the care of a child that is gross, wanton and culpable, and shows a reckless disregard for human life is a Class 6 felony.

If you have been charged with violating Virginia’s child abuse or neglect laws, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A child abuse or neglect conviction may bring severe penalties and consequences. Contact Garrett Law Group, PLC, today for a confidential consultation.

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