Over the past several years, I've seen an increase in child-abuse charges filed against parents arising from punishment that, even as recent as ten years ago, would have not caught the eye of a prosecutor. For all of you new parents out there, this is something that certainly needs to be on your radar.
To be clear, Virginia allows for “corporal punishment.” That means that spanking and physical punishment is permitted. However, it is limited to “reasonable” physical punishment. What exactly reasonable means is determined by case-by-case circumstances and can mean different things depending upon the community in which you live.
In considering what corporal punishment is, the court will take in to consideration factors such as bruising/markings left on the child, what steps of punishment or taken prior to the physical punishment, the circumstances surrounding the actual punishment, such as how many spanks were employed, and other circumstances.
That being said, it is important to be aware that certain punishment can be interpreted as a child abuse. And as the years proceed, it seems at least in my practice that this threshold is becoming lower and lower.
Should you have any questions about Virginia child-abuse law, or other general questions about our criminal justice system, call us at (703)584-7277 to speak with a Virginia defense attorney.