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Child Neglect in California – Important Information You Need to Know 2024

child neglect in California can lead to a juvenile dependency case or CPS case


California has several laws designed to safeguard children’s well-being. These laws deal with the most frequent ways that children are at risk. In addition, California has strict penalties for violating its laws against child abuse, neglect, and endangerment.

Juvenile Dependency Case for Child Neglect in California

The offense of child neglect is a violation of WIC 300 and can lead to a juvenile dependency case or CPS case opening up against you. A juvenile dependency case, also known as a child protective services (CPS) case, is a legal proceeding in which the government removes a child from their home due to allegations of abuse or neglect.

If reported allegations of child abuse or neglect in California persist, the state will file a juvenile dependency petition with the court to initiate legal proceedings. For the removal of the child from home to occur, a hearing is done by the court first to assess if there is enough evidence presented. If found true, foster care placement follows as an appropriate measure for protection.

Criminal Cases for Child Neglect in California

Child neglect in California is also a crime under Penal Code 270 as the willful and unlawful failure of a parent to give their child basics, including clothes, food, shelter, and medical care. Typically, this crime is filed as a misdemeanor, with a possible jail sentence of one year.

In California, a parent has great flexibility in choosing how to raise a child. However, under this rule, a parent may be charged with child neglect if they fail to provide a child with the most basic care needs.

A prosecutor must be able to show the following components to prove that a parent is criminally responsible for neglecting to provide for their child:

  • A minor child’s parent was the defendant.
  • The defendant neglected to fulfill one of the child’s needs.
  • There was no valid basis for the defendant’s intentional refusal to supply that necessity.

Child Neglect Examples

Neglecting a child may take many different forms. Examples of neglecting a child include:

  • A mother who ignores her 11-year-old son’s that is an evident illness and refuses to take her to the doctor.
  • A parent who does not dress his child appropriately for the season, such as with warm clothing in the winter.
  • A foster parent caring for a 6-year-old youngster neglects to feed him, which causes him to become undernourished.

Other California Child Neglect Laws

The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (“CANRA”) (Penal Code 11164-11174.3) is a state law that outlines the responsibilities of “mandated reporters” and the processes to be followed to safeguard children from abuse and neglect.

If you are suspected of child neglect in California, what happens?

Child neglect allegations are taken seriously by the state of California. If authorities receive child abuse or neglect allegations, they will investigate the claims. They may petition the juvenile court if they find enough evidence to support the allegations.

This petition will request that the court place the child in protective custody. Sometimes, the child may be placed with a relative or foster care. In other cases, the child may remain in the home but be placed under the supervision of the county welfare department.

Allegations of child neglect can also lead to criminal charges. If the state of California believes that a child has been abused or neglected, they may file criminal charges against the alleged abuser.

You can also be charged with child neglect if your child has been around someone who has abused them and you did not protect your child. There are several types of criminal child abuse violations under the Penal Code, including:

  • Willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment of a child (Penal Code 273d)
  • Unlawfully inflicting or permitting corporal injury on a child (Penal Code 273a)
  • Sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 (Penal Code 288)
  • Lewd or lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14 (Penal Code 288)
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 (Penal Code 288.05)

Being charged with child neglect is a serious matter requiring skilled legal assistance. A conviction can affect many aspects of your life, including your ability to keep custody of your child and the possibility of losing your freedom.


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

You deserve to have a lawyer 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 Orange County, California, or Southern 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.

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

Call us now to speak to a lawyer and for your free consultation. Call (866) 811-4255.

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

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