Williams and Walsh - Criminal Defense Overview

Homicide by Child Abuse

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In South Carolina, one can be charged with Homicide by Child Abuse if he or she “causes the death of a child under the age of 11 while committing child abuse or neglect, and the death occurs under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life.” Aiding and abetting another person in abuse or neglect that leads to death can be also prosecuted as homicide.

If you or a loved one is facing this tragic situation and charge, please contact us today. We stand ready with our team to prepare your defense and serve your best interest.

SECTION 16-3-85. Homicide by child abuse; definitions; penalty; sentencing

(A) A person is guilty of homicide by child abuse if the person:

(1) causes the death of a child under the age of eleven while committing child abuse or neglect, and the death occurs under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life; or

(2) knowingly aids and abets another person to commit child abuse or neglect, and the child abuse or neglect results in the death of a child under the age of eleven.

(B) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:

(1) “child abuse or neglect” means an act or omission by any person which causes harm to the child’s physical health or welfare;

(2) “harm” to a child’s health or welfare occurs when a person:

(a) inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical injury, including injuries sustained as a result of excessive corporal punishment;

(b) fails to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or health care, and the failure to do so causes a physical injury or condition resulting in death; or

(c) abandons the child resulting in the child’s death.

(C) Homicide by child abuse is a felony and a person who is convicted of or pleads guilty to homicide by child abuse:

(1) under subsection (A)(1) may be imprisoned for life but not less than a term of twenty years; or

(2) under subsection (A)(2) must be imprisoned for a term not exceeding twenty years nor less than ten years.

(D) In sentencing a person under this section, the judge must consider any aggravating circumstances including, but not limited to, a defendant’s past pattern of child abuse or neglect of a child under the age of eleven, and any mitigating circumstances; however, a child’s crying does not constitute provocation so as to be considered a mitigating circumstance.