In order to be found guilty of Penal Code section 273d, the prosecution must show you are:
1) The parent of a minor child;
A minor is any person under 18 years of age.
2) You failed to provide necessities for the child;
Necessities include clothing, food, shelter, medical attendance or other remedial care. If you are providing your minor child with treatment by spiritual means, such treatment will constitution “other remedial care” if it is in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination.
3)Your failure was willful and without a lawful excuse.
An omission or failure is willful if it is done willingly or on purpose. You need not have intended to break the law or intended to withhold a necessity from your child. If there is proof that you failed to provide necessities, it is assumed your failure is willful. Lawful excuses include someone who does not have the money to provide for her child, and is diligently looking for a new job.
Child abuse may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If it is charged as a misdemeanor you can face up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or felony depends on the facts of the case and on your prior criminal history.H owever, it is highly unlikely you will be charged with a felony child neglect unless you have been previously convicted of child neglect.
Common defenses to child neglect include not acting willfully or having a lawful excuse like not having the financial means to provide the necessary care. In situations like these, a good criminal defense attorney is necessary to gather the necessary evidence and convince the judge or jury.