Oklahoma has some of the highest rates of domestic violence and child abuse in the nation. Our state’s Department of Human Services has even been sued in federal and class action cases for failure to properly address reports of child abuse and neglect. As a result, district attorneys are quick to prosecute these charges and often pursue harsh sentences for alleged offenders.
What Constitutes Child Abuse?
Under Oklahoma statute 10A OK Stat § 10A-1-1-105 (2014), a person responsible for a child’s health, welfare or safety commits abuse when harm is enacted or threatened against the child. This includes:
- Non-accidental physical or mental injury
- Sexual abuse
- Sexual exploitation
What Does Not Constitute Child Abuse?
This same statute says that parents and guardians may not be charged with child abuse for using “ordinary force” in the discipline of their children. This includes:
However, in a child abuse case the term “ordinary force” may be up for interpretation. Generally, any form of punishment that leaves visible marks will be considered excessive force and could lead to a charge of abuse.
Child abuse is considered a felony offense in Oklahoma. If convicted, you could face a sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, depending on the details of the case.