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What Happens if You Are Charged with Child Neglect in California? 2024

December 26, 2023

What Happens if You Are Charged with Child Neglect in California? Call the best child neglect and juvenile dependency lawyers in California. Call ALL Trial Lawyers.

What Happens if You Are Charged with Child Neglect in California?

Child neglect laws in California, mainly defined under Penal Code 270 (PC 270), hold significant implications for parents or legal guardians failing to meet a child’s basic needs. This statute serves as a protective measure, ensuring the well-being of minors by penalizing those who willfully deny essential provisions required for a child’s growth and development.

Understanding Penal Code 270 PC

Definition and Scope of Child Neglect

PC 270 addresses the act of child neglect, encompassing the intentional failure to provide necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, or medical attention for a minor. The law extends its reach to unborn children, recognizing the responsibility of caregivers to safeguard their well-being from conception.

Elements and Provisions of PC 270

The statute outlines the necessary elements to establish child neglect, emphasizing the willful omission, devoid of a lawful excuse, to cater to a child’s fundamental requirements. It also delineates the repercussions for such neglect, encompassing both misdemeanor and, in rare instances, felony charges.

The Concept of Child Neglect in California Law

Identification of Child Neglect

California law meticulously defines child neglect, distinguishing it from other forms of abuse and highlighting the neglect’s impact on a child’s physical and emotional welfare.

Definitions of a “Parent”

The expansive definition of a “parent” under PC 270 includes various custodial roles, encompassing biological parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, and individuals holding themselves as guardians or spouses of pregnant women.

Exceptions and “Lawful Excuse”

The statute acknowledges situations where caregivers reasonably attempt to provide for a child despite financial constraints or when adhering to religious beliefs that may conflict with traditional medical care.

Consideration of Income and Circumstances

Courts assessing neglect allegations consider various factors, including income, social benefits, and extenuating circumstances, while determining a parent’s ability to support a child.

Relationship Between Child Neglect and Child Protective Services (CPS)

CPS Intervention and Child Removal

Cases of neglect may prompt interventions from Child Protective Services, potentially resulting in the removal of a child from the caregiver’s custody when deemed essential for the child’s safety and well-being.

Factors Influencing CPS Actions

CPS decisions are influenced by the severity of neglect, evaluating the immediate risks to the child’s health and safety, and the necessity of alternative care arrangements.

Related Offenses Associated with Child Neglect

Penal Code 273d PC – Child Abuse

Child neglect correlates with related offenses such as child abuse, endangerment, battery, and other legal statutes designed to protect minors from harm.

Penal Code 273a PC – Child Endangerment

Child endangerment laws intersect with neglect, focusing on actions that jeopardize a child’s health or safety while under a caregiver’s supervision.

Other Related Offenses (Battery, School Attendance, Domestic Battery)

Various legal provisions encompass behaviors and actions that pose threats to a child’s welfare, aligning with the overarching goal of safeguarding minors.

Penalties for Violating PC 270

Misdemeanor Penalties

Typically, violations of PC 270 result in misdemeanor charges, carrying fines and potential jail time as penalties for each offense.

Rare Instances of Felony Charges

In exceptional cases, persistent neglect, despite the legal determination of parentage, might lead to felony charges, but such instances are infrequent.

Defenses Against Accusations of Child Neglect

Strategies and Legal Defenses

Defense strategies against PC 270 accusations revolve around disproving willful neglect, demonstrating unintentional circumstances, and negotiating reduced charges with the prosecution.

Potential Negotiations and Outcomes

Exploring negotiation possibilities and seeking legal counsel is crucial in determining child neglect cases’ outcomes and potential resolutions.


If you have been accused of abuse or neglect, it is crucial to get a juvenile dependency attorney as soon as possible.

You deserve to have a juvenile dependency attorney who will help you fight to get your children back. If you are dealing with a juvenile dependency case, child-welfare services case, or CPS case in California, you need the juvenile dependency attorneys at ALL Trial Lawyers by your side.

Don’t risk calling the wrong lawyer. If CPS is investigating you, you do not have to deal with them alone. 

We know how the juvenile court process in California works. We have handled hundreds of juvenile dependency cases in Orange CountySan Diego CountyLos Angeles CountySan Bernardino County, and Riverside County.

Whether you are in Newport BeachIrvineFullertonLaguna HillsMission ViejoGarden GroveAnaheim, or any city in Orange County, we are here to help.

We have an office located near you, and we’re ready to start working on your case.

Call us now to speak to a CPS lawyer and for your free consultation. Call (866) 963-0892.

Dealing with a CPS case can be scary. You don’t have to face a CPS case alone.



Conclusion and Importance of Legal Guidance

Understanding and navigating California’s child neglect laws, particularly Penal Code 270, underscores the significance of legal guidance for caregivers and the justice system. Seeking informed counsel is imperative to navigate accusations and ensure the welfare of minors within the legal framework.

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