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Overlap of Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment in U.S.A. State Civil and Criminal Statutes

Compiled by Annelies Hagemeister, MA, April 2000
Microsoft Word version available

Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse
School of Social Work
University of Minnesota
St. Paul, MN 55108

Special thanks to the following individuals and organizations: Steve Christian, National Conference of State Legislatures; Jill Comcowich, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Randy Magen, University of Alaska; Gretchen Test, National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators; and, Debra Whitcomb, Education Development Center, Inc.

The following table is arranged by State. Not all states are represented.

| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

State Civil Code
In civil code regarding child maltreatment, there is a specific reference to a child's witnessing domestic violence as a specific form of child maltreatment, or as grounds for services. Generally this comes under children's code or law pertaining to custody and visitation.
Criminal Code
In criminal code or sentencing rules, regarding domestic violence, there is reference to domestic violence committed in the presence of a child as a separate criminal act or as grounds for an enhanced penalty.
Alaska Alaska Stat. § 47.10.011
Changed CPS laws to include the following: (a) …a child may be in need of services if that child has experienced "reported exposure to conduct by a household member… against another household member that is a crime or an offense under a law or ordinance of another jurisdiction." (Domestic violence is a 4th degree assault classified as a Class A misdemeanor.) (Yr: 1997)

Currently a bill before the State Legislature to create enhanced sentencing guidelines. [HB 261 (?)] (Yr: In session, 1999-2000)
Cal. Penal Code § 1170.76 [Sentencing guidelines.]
"The fact that a defendant who committs to attempts to commit a violation…is or has been a member of the household of a minor or of the victim of the offense, or the defendant is a…relative…and the offense contemporaneously occurred in the presence of, or was witnessed by the minor, shall be considered a circumstance in aggravation of the crime in imposing a term…" See also: Cal. Gov't Code § 13960, which relates to victims of crime, and defines the family or household members of criminal victims as "derivative victims."
Legislation is pending; changes to the statutes are being considered that would allow a perpetrator of domestic violence to be charged with the crime of domestic violence and a separate offense of domestic violence committed in the presence of a child, which would be a misdemeanor.
Deleware DEL. CODE Title 13, Domestic Relations, Chapter 7A
"Child Protection from Domestic Violence Act" "The purpose of this chapter is to protect children from domestic violence and the harm caused by experiencing domestic violence in their homes." Beyond this the act seems to relate most to dissolution of marriage and custody cases, rather than child protection or criminal cases.
Del. Code Ann. tit. 11 § 1102
This code relates to criminal endangerment of the welfare of a child. "A person is guilty of endangering the welfare of a child when: (1)…(4) The person commits any violent felony, or reckless endangering second degree, assault third degree… knowing that such (offense) was witness by a child less than 18 years of age who is a member of the person's family or victim's family; …"
Florida Fla.
Florida's legislature made a decision to make judges mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse. While the law does not say that domestic violence committed in the presence of a child is evidence of child maltreatment, most judges presume emotional harm from such exposure and are reporting. This has implications for battered women who are seeking court protection from abusers.
Fla. Stat. ch. 921.0014 & Fla. Stat. ch. 921.0024 [Sentencing rule.]
Rule 3.704(d) (23). Domestic Violence in the presence of a child: "If the offender is convicted…of domestic violence…(it was) committed in the presence of a child who is related by blood or marriage to the victim or perpetrator, and who is under the age of 16, the subtotal sentence points are multiplied, at the discretion of the court, by 1.5." (Yr:)
Ga. Code Ann. § 16-5-70
(c.) (1) (2). "Any person commits the offense of cruelty to children in the second degree when such a person, who is the primary aggressor, intentionally allows a child under the age of 18 to witness the commission of a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery; or…having knowledge that a child under the age of 18 is present and sees or hears the act, commits a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery." (Yr:)
Haw. Rev. Stat. § 706- ___ (see SB823, 1999 Legis. Sess.) [Sentencing rule.]
Sec. 706-606.4. "…in the court shall consider the following aggravating factors in determining the particular sentence to be imposed: (a) the defendant has been convicted of committing or attempting to commit an offense involving abuse of a family or household member; (b) the defendant is or has been a family or household member of either a minor referred to in paragraph (c) or the victim of the offense; and (c) the offense contemporaneously occurred in the presence of a minor." (Yr:1999)
Idaho Code § 18-918 [Sentencing guideline/enhanced penalties.]
(7) (b). Penalties for domestic violence are doubled if the crime took place "in the physical presence of a child (under 16) or knowing that a child is present and may see or hear an act of domestic assault or battery." (Yr:)
720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/12-3.2; Criminal Offenses/Sentence.
Sec. 12-3.2. Domestic Battery. …(c.) For any conviction for domestic battery, if a person under 18 years of age who is the child or the offender or of the victim was present and witnessed the domestic battery of the victim, the defendant is liable for the cost of any counseling required for the child, at the discretion of the court… (Yr effective 1-1-00).
Indiana Ind. Code § 31-14-14-5; Part of Title 31.
Family Law & Juvenile Law; Article 31-14-14-5 deals primarily with need for supervised visitation of non-custodial parents convicted of domestic battery.

Kentucky Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 620.023
Part of Title LI. Unified Juvenile Code; Chapter 620 relates to dependency, neglect, and abuse; Section .023 deals with evidence of circumstances to be considered in determining best interests of the child. "… (d) A finding of domestic violence and abuse as defined in KRS 403.720, whether of not committed in the presence of the child."

Minnesota Minn. Stat. Ann. 626.556*
Maltreatment of Minors Reporting Act, Sect. 626.556, Subd.2 (c.)(8)Definition of Neglect now specifically includes cases in which the parent or other person responsible for the care of the child:
  1. engages in violent behavior that demonstrates a disregard for the well-being of the child as indicated by action that could reasonably result in serious physical, mental or threatened injury, or emotional damage to the child;
  2. engages in repeated domestic assault that would constitute a violation of Sec. 609-2242, Subdiv. 2 or 4;
  3. intentionally inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily harm against a family or household member, as defined in Sec. 518B.01, Subdiv. 2, that is within sight or sound of the child; or
  4. subjects the child to ongoing domestic violence by the abuser in the home environment that is likely to have a detrimental effect on the well-being of the child. (Yr: 1999)
[* Changes pending in current legislative session, 2000.]

Ok. Stat. tit. 21 &stat; 644
Title 21: Crimes and punishments
Section 644 refers to sentencing guidelines for domestic violence in the presence of a child. "Any person convicted of domestic abuse as defined in this subsection that was committed in the presence of a child shall be sentenced to not less than six (6) months. …Any person convicted of a second or subsequent domestic abuse …committed in the presence of a child shall be sentenced to not less than one (1) year. …As used in this section, 'in the presence of a child' means in the physical presence of a child; or having knowledge that a child is present and may see or hear an act of domestic violence."
Or. Rev. Stat. &stat; 163.160
163.160 (3) (b). Domestic violence is raised to a Class C felony if "the assault is witnessed by the person's or the victim's minor child or stepchild or a minor child residing within the household of the person or victim." (Yr: 1997)
Utah Code Ann. 76-5-109.1
Commission of domestic violence in the presence of a child. A person is guilty of 3rd degree felony for two sub-types, 1) criminal homicide against a cohabitant in the presence of a child; or 2) intentionally causes serious bodily injury to a cohabitant or uses a dangerous weapon, or other means or force likely to produce injury against a cohabitant, in the presence of a child. (Other offenses of domestic violence in presence of a child constitute class A misdemeanors.) "Presence of a child" means in the physical presence of a child; or having knowledge that a child is present and may see or hear an act of domestic violence. (Yr:)
Wash. Rev. Code § 9.94A.390 [Sentencing rule.]
An offense that involves domestic violence and "occurred within sight or sound of the victim's or the offender's minor children under the age of 18" is considered an aggravating circumstance and the court may set a sentence outside the standard range for such crimes. (Yr:)

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File Last Modified: Friday, 02-Nov-2012 12:52:32 CDT
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