Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to answer your interesting
question. A physical altercation between an adult and a child, such as
the one you described, in the state of California can easily be
construed as domestic violence, and as such, a serious crime.
CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE SECTION 11164-11174.3 speaks specifically about
child abuse and neglect.
11165.2. specifically addresses neglect and outlines ?maltreatment?,
?circumstances indicating harm or threatened harm to the child's
health or welfare? and other ?acts and omissions on the part of the
This statute describes numerous circumstances where any person having
the care or custody of a child willfully causes or permits the person
or health of the child to be placed in a situation such that his or
her person or health is endangered. As a person who has spent the past
20 plus years in law enforcement I can assure you that I personally
would not stand idly and watch an adult punch a child in the gut and
not believe with ever fiber of my being that this was a danger to his
Other statutes also back up the notion that gut punching is not normal
punishment but varying degrees of criminal abuse or assault:
?11165.3. As used in this article, "the willful harming or injuring
of a child or the endangering of the person or health of a child,"
means a situation in which any person willfully causes or permits any
child to suffer, or inflicts thereon, unjustifiable physical pain or
mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child,
willfully causes or permits the person or health of the child to be
placed in a situation in which his or her person or health is
?11165.4. As used in this article, "unlawful corporal punishment or
injury" means a situation where any person willfully inflicts upon any
child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury resulting in
a traumatic condition.?
There are also assault statutes:
?240. An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present
ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.?
?273a. (a) Any person who, under circumstances or conditions likely
to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits any
child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or
mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child,
willfully causes or permits the person or health of that child to be
injured, or willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a
situation where his or her person or health is endangered, shall be
punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or
in the state prison for two, four, or six years.?
?273d. (a) Any person who willfully inflicts upon a child any cruel
or inhuman corporal punishment or an injury resulting in a traumatic
condition is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment
in the state prison for two, four, or six years, or in a county jail
for not more than one year, by a fine of up to six thousand dollars
($6,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.?
Oh yes. And by the way it gets progressively uglier if there have been
previous convictions. Bottom line ? gut punching (as you described it)
is, in my estimation as a career law enforcement professional, a cruel
and inhuman corporal punishment that risks injury and/or trauma (even
if its emotional trauma) and would not be considered an acceptable
form of corporal punishment, rather a form of assault, battery, abuse
and/or neglect according to the California Penal Code.
PS: "Child endangerment" statutes in California generally pertain
situations where a child is exposed to dangerous, unhealthy or illegal
activities or circumstances rather than first-hand assaults like the
one you described; so those really don't apply - just so you know why
I didn't mention those also.
I hope you find that my research exceeds your expectations. If you
have any questions about my research please post a clarification
request prior to rating the answer. Otherwise, I welcome your rating
and your final comments and I look forward to working with you again
in the near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.
Tutuzdad ? Google Answers Researcher
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Request for Answer Clarification by
18 Sep 2005 14:46 PDT
i have access myself to this code. it's not very specific, and i am
afraid that i do not find your answer satisfying. I am very glad,
however, that you have experience in law enforcement.
the child ran away from home for several hours, to the street. would
this be considered a "traumatic condition" resulting from the punch?
I mean, his physical health was not seriously affected. The puncher
did not use his full strength, just enough to effect the condition
i am with you, it offends every fibre of my being. However, I cannot
find exact wording to confirm this, which is why I posted the original
Clarification of Answer by
18 Sep 2005 17:53 PDT
There are so many statutory references forbidding the kind of violent
contact you described that the effort of compiling them all would
frustrate almost anyone. There are other examples besides those I have
given you. For example, consider this:
?273ab. Any person who, having the care or custody of a child who is
under eight years of age, assaults the child by means of force that to
a reasonable person would be likely to produce great bodily injury,
resulting in the child's death, shall be punished by imprisonment in
the state prison for 25 years to life.?
FIND CALIFORNIA LAW
Yes! 25 YEARS TO LIFE !
Now, you might insist that the adult did not use maximum force to
achieve this effect. Not that it matters much under the law since a
minor is a minor - You don?t mention how old this child is, but you
must also understand that it doesn?t take a lot of force to rupture a
child?s spleen, lacerate a liver or burst an artery in the stomach,
intestine, heart or elsewhere. If that ever happened the child could
literally die before you could call 911 and explain what happened.
In a criminal investigation the hands, fists, and feet are always
officially considered weapons when they are used as a weapon. If
you?ve never read a post mortem report of a child who has been beaten
to death you will see the medical examiner?s reference in the part
describing ?weapon(s) used? listed as ?hands/feet?. And yes, sometimes
one strike is all it takes.
There is no doubt that an adult punching a child under the
circumstances you mentioned is illegal in that state.
I hope this clarifies. I look forward to your final rating and comments.