Minnesota Child Abuse Attorneys
Under Minn. Stat. § 609.378, a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker commits neglect of a child under one of two circumstances:
1. Intentionally depriving a child of necessary food, clothing, shelter, health care, or supervision appropriate for that child’s age when the parent, guardian, or caretaker is reasonably able to make the necessary provisions and the deprivation harms or is likely to substantially harm the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health; or
2. Knowingly permitting the continuing physical or sexual abuse of a child.
If convicted, both crimes carry a gross misdemeanor sentence and the first circumstance may be a felony sentence of a maximum of five years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000 depending on the level of harm to the child.
Regarding the second circumstance, the courts have interpreted the ‘knowingly’ element to require proof that the defendant perceived conduct or contact that violated the state. ‘Permitting’ is likewise undefined by the statute, leading the courts to use the plain meaning of the term: “to allow the doing of (something); consent to.” State v Thompson.
In the Thompson case, the State argued that the “knowingly permitting” element was satisfied by a showing that the Defendant did not involve a government agency – a.k.a. not reporting the conduct to a government agency. The court quickly dismissed this argument saying that involving the government is not required. Arguably, then, the State would have a hard time carrying its burden if a defendant can show that he or she took some action to disapprove of the alleged conduct.
By statute, there is a complete defense to this crime where, at the time of the neglect under the second circumstance, there was a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the defendant that acting to stop or prevent the neglect would result in substantial bodily harm to the defendant or child in retaliation. This can likely be shown by a course of history between the defendant and alleged perpetrator where harm or the threat of harm has occurred.
A successful defense must take a diligent and aggressive approach – diligent in learning everything about the facts from all angles, which may involve retaining a private investigator, and aggressive in arguing why your actions do not amount to neglect as defined by statute and interpreted by the courts. North Star Criminal Defense is the right neglect of child defense attorney for you.