Over the past several years, I've seen an increase in child-abuse charges filed against parents arising from the punishment that, even as recent as ten years ago, would not have 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.

Corporal Punishment is Permitted in Virginia - But Only to a Certain Extent

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 in "due moderation." What exactly reasonable and due moderation means is determined by case-by-case circumstances and can mean different things depending upon the community in which you live.

Harbough Provides Guidance on When Spanking is Criminal

A seminal case in Virginia regarding child spanking is Harbough v. Comm, 209 Va. 695 (1969).  In Harbough, the victim was a five-year-old child who was observed by school staff to have difficulty walking, and upon examination, his buttocks were badly bruised with blood marks and seepage.  He also had purple marks and welts on his legs and ended up being admitted to the hospital.  The Court in Harbough ultimately found that the child's injuries were due to the defendant punishing the child for what he felt was inappropriate behavior.  As you might image, the defendant was convicted of assault.  

In convicting the defendant,  the Harbough  Court made clear that the Court will take into consideration factors such as bruising/markings left on the child, what steps of punishment or taken before the physical punishment, the circumstances surrounding the actual punishment, such as how many spanks were employed, and other circumstances.  However, this is simply no bright line rule to determine what exactly is going too far.

Have you been Criminally Charged in Northern Virginia for Spanking?

Partner James Abrenio has been represent parents charged with spanking (typically charged as Domestic Assault) for over a decade.  If you've been charged in Northern Virginia, give him a call to discuss your case. 

To be clear, he does charge an upfront $500 Consultation Fee, which he charges simply because of the sheer volume of calls he receives about his services.  The fee allows him to focus on his active clients as well as those sincerely interested in retaining his services.  If you ultimately hire James, this fee will be credited towards your retainer.  

To schedule your Consultation with James, call us at (703)584-7277. 

Is spanking a 13 year old girl allowed? And before you answer it was her step father. Also is threatening extreme violence on the child considered abuse?
by prefer not to state name October 25, 2017 at 03:21 PM
Yes I believe children are in need of discipline. To teach them right from wrong. A few smacks on the backside teaches them they've done wrong. Done and forgotten a kiss on the forehead and a cuddle
by Martin April 7, 2017 at 04:27 AM
So is it legal for the step Dad to spank my child
by Shaun Holmes March 26, 2017 at 01:14 PM
Now I will happen to ask one simple question. Could parents have the right to paddle their children at home? I don't have children of my own but I do believe that occasional spankings with a small paddle or using my hand will be the last resort. Children these days back talk or disrespect their parents and they think they could get away with it. All it takes 2-5 strikes for minimum and 6-10 strikes for the maximum on the bottom only is where it should be administered as long welp marks, bruises or injuries are not in the child then it wouldn't be physical abuse. However there are other ways to discipline or punish children than to use CP for disciplinary action. I will give alternative consequences for bad behavior and rewards for good behavior and doing what I asked them to do. Very seldom that I would give them an old fashioned thrashen that would be 11-15 above minimum and 16-20 above maximum- they would have to do something extremely wrong or bad before I had to do it above that. For example stealing, inappropriate touching of private parts of others only, or did something wrong by getting invading personal space,etc. Telling me a lie would get them smacked about 6-10 times on the bottom for example or for being suspended from school.
by Ashley September 22, 2016 at 06:07 PM
What is considered punishment that is interpreted as child abuse
by Sylvia Harris November 8, 2014 at 01:09 PM
Is their a case where a family member won his court case!
by Sylvia Harris November 8, 2014 at 01:04 PM
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