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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

New law in effect surrounding unreasonable child restraint

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One of the new laws that went into effect last Wednesday was regarding unreasonable child restraint. Although we've posted on this in the past (Criminal Neglect Penalties for Unreasonable Restraint of Children added to the Vulnerable Adult Bill), I recently saw an article that discussed this new law as a policy change for general child abuse, when in fact it is specific to unreasonable child restraint.

There has been a law in place regarding unreasonable restraint of a child; the new text broadens the level of harm to include demonstrable bodily harm and sentencing guidelines for that level, whereas previously one had to prove substantial bodily harm in order to receive a prison sentence and/or fine. As Lindsay pointed out in the previous blog post referenced above, this law is the result of public outcry over a case in which two parents received gross misdemeanors for chaining their 5-year-old son to his crib at night; had those parents done the same to someone else's child, it would have been a felony.

Now, if the restraint results in demonstrable bodily harm, the offender(s) could receive a maximum prison sentence of 2 years and/or a fine of not more than $4,000. (The punishment for substantial bodily harm remains the same: maximum prison sentence of 5 years and/or a fine of not more than $10,000.)

The actual text of the new law can be found in Chapter 175 of 2012 session laws.

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