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Can I Go to Jail for Hitting My Child in Georgia?

It is always difficult to determine how big of a role the government should have in your family life, especially when it comes to raising children. As a parent, you may believe that the authorities have no business telling you what you can and cannot do with your kids. On the other hand, it is important to put strict laws in place that prevent parents from abusing or neglecting their children. So where do we draw the line? If you hit your child in Georgia, will you go to jail?

If you have been accused of any kind of domestic violence, it is important to gain the assistance of a qualified, experienced attorney. Family life can be stressful, and the laws can be overly strict in some cases. There is no sense in going to jail over a simple misunderstanding. A skilled attorney can prevent you from unnecessary penalties and legal consequences, allowing you to spend more time with your family in the future without government interference. 

Hitting Your Child is Legal in All 50 States

Strictly speaking, hitting your child is legal across the United States. That being said, different states have different specific regulations in place to determine what is acceptable and what is not. Hitting your child may be legal, but you could “cross the line” and hit your child in a manner that is considered unlawful. 

What Do Georgia’s Laws Say?

While some states ban parents from hitting their children with a closed fist or an object, Georgia simply states that you cannot cause any “physical injuries” to your child. This vague and open-ended guideline is for the most part completely open to interpretation. 

Judges and prosecutors must use their own discretion to determine what constitutes a physical injury. In the specific context of enforcing discipline, Georgia allows “reasonable forms of discipline . . . so long as any injury to the child is not more than minimal.” Again, this is a vague and open-ended phrase that does not provide us with any real specific guidelines. 

A Specific Example

In 1994, a woman in Woodstock, Georgia was arrested and charged with cruelty to children after slapping her son across the face in a grocery store. Cruelty to children is a felony in Georgia. According to the mother, she slapped her son after he started being mean to his little sister. She slapped him across the face a single time, and it left “red marks” on the boy’s face. 

After being released on a $22,050 bond, the woman complained that the police had overreacted. From an outside perspective, it certainly seems that way. Regardless, this serves as a clear example of what may be viewed as illegal in Georgia. The deciding factor here may have been the fact that the woman left marks or bruises on her son’s face. 

Getting Legal Help

A parent does have a right to spank their child while disciplining them in Georgia, but the laws are vague and misleading in many situations. Because these laws are often open to interpretation, it is crucial to enlist the help of a qualified, experienced attorney. Reach out to Lankford & Moore Law today and receive the help you need.

I realized the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder. The lesson was so indelibly burnt into me that a large part of my time during the twenty years of my practice as a lawyer was occupied in bringing about private compromises of hundreds of cases. I lost nothing thereby — not even money, certainly not my soul.

Mahatma Gandhi

Lankford & Moore Law in Downtown Lawrenceville

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