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Home Children & Young Persons: Cruelty to Children

The legal definition of cruelty to a child and young person under the age of 16 extends to any act of commission and/or omission which exposes the minor to danger. To assault, ill-treat, neglect, abandon, expose or cause or procure an under 16 child to be assaulted is cruelty and is regarded as a misdemeanour or crime which is punishable by law. The court will examine form the available evidence if the assault or ill treatment is a pattern of offending behaviour towards the child or if indeed it is an isolated event. Conviction of child abuse and subsequent sentencing takes this into serious cognisance.

Offence of Cruelty to Children

The seriousness of the incident or series of incidents will be assessed to determine how much danger the child was exposed to. It is also important to your defence to establish whether or not there were aggravating and mitigating factors. In a hypothetical case where an accused person who was being attacked by a group of children under the age of 16 managed to secure a weapon and fought back with it, aggravating and mitigating circumstances may be used as a defence. The gravity of the defence put up by the defendant and the potential danger faced from the minors will however be weighed for balance.

Some of the other factors taken into consideration by the court in cases of cruelty to a child and other related matters include past convictions, the vulnerability of the victim, whether or not the defendant is someone in the position of power and/or of trust over the child. This latter factor is important for the court to determine if this position of power has been abused. This is particularly relevant in claims of alleged child abuse by children entrusted into the care of any religious organisation, to schools and other such bodies ordinarily charged with the care and protection of the minors entrusted to them. The physical and psychological effect of the assault or exposure to danger on the minor will also be examined by the court.

Whatever you do at any stage of the investigation and/or interrogation by the police, you must be careful not to incriminate yourself. The need to have one of our fiercely dedicated solicitors present when you are being questioned cannot be overemphasised. If you suspect that an allegation of child abuse is imminently going to be brought against you or if indeed investigations are already under way, you will be improving your chances tremendously if you pick up the phone and ring us today in the highest and strictest confidence ever. Call us today on 0203 514 0088; alternatively, please send us an enquiry and one of our criminal defence lawyers in London will be in touch shortly thereafter.


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