A couple from Irvine, California caught their 15-year-old son with a lighter and suspected him of smoking. In response, the couple took their son to the home of a 39-year-old fellow church member, who was known to physically discipline children. The couple gave the man permission to discipline their son, and the man subsequently beat the boy with a metal pole causing severe bruising. The man was arrested in connection with the beating. Authorities are still considering whether to file charges against the father.
It can be a fine line between physical discipline of children and the criminal offense of Child Abuse and opinions vary widely as to what constitutes abuse versus discipline. Nevada law permits the physical discipline of children. But, if the discipline results in "physical injury" then it crosses the line into physical abuse. Physical injury is defined as "permanent or temporary disfigurement", and courts have held that bruising alone may be sufficient to meet this standard.
Ordinarily, a person is not responsible for the independent criminal acts of another person. However, a person can be held responsible for the criminal acts of another if they are part of a conspiracy with that person or if they aid and abet the criminal offense. Holding someone liable for the acts of another is called "vicarious liability." If someone is vicariously liable for the acts of another, they can be charged with the same criminal offense as the criminal actor.
A Conspiracy is an agreement with another person to commit a criminal offense. When a person enters into a conspiracy with another person to commit an offense, the person is then responsible for all acts committed by their co-conspirator that are done to further the conspiracy.
Aiding and Abetting means aiding, encouraging or assisting in the commission of a crime with the specific intent that the offense be completed. If a person aids and abets a crime and then someone else commits that crime, then both people can be held equally responsible for the offense.
Therefore, if the prosecutors in the story above can establish that the parent(s) of the boy conspired with their fellow church member to commit child abuse, or that they aided, encouraged or assisted in the commission of the offense, then that parent(s) may also be charged with the crime of Child Abuse.
If you or someone you know is charged with Child Abuse or another offense, either as a direct participant or as an aider and abettor or co-conspirator, it is important that you contact a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney right away. The Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer can assist you in analyzing the facts of your case, identifying applicable defenses and developing the most aggressive litigation strategy possible to protect your legal rights.