I. PC 273ab: Causing Death or Paralysis on a Minor
Legal Definition: (a) Any person, having the care or custody of a child who is under eight years of age, who assaults the child by means of force that to a reasonable person would be likely to produce great bodily injury, resulting in the child’s death, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 25 years to life. Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting the applicability of subdivision (a) of Section 187 or Section 189.
(b) Any person, having the care or custody of a child who is under eight years of age, who assaults the child by means of force that to a reasonable person would be likely to produce great bodily injury, resulting in the child becoming comatose due to brain injury or suffering paralysis of a permanent nature, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole. As used in this subdivision, “ paralysis ” means a major or complete loss of motor function resulting from injury to the nervous system or to a muscular mechanism.
For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 273ab, the prosecution must show that:
1. You had care or custody of a child who was under the age of 8;
2. You did an act that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to the child;
3. You did that act willfully;
4. The force used was likely to produce great bodily injury;
5. When you acted, you were aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that your act by its nature would directly and probably result in great bodily injury to the child;
6. When you acted, you had the present ability to apply force likely to produce great bodily injury to the child;
7. Your act caused the child’s death or paralysis or the child was comatose.
8. When you acted, you were not reasonably disciplining a child.
II. What does this mean?
Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage. Great bodily injury means signiﬁcant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm.
An act can cause death if:
1. The death was the natural and probable consequence of the act;
2. The act was a direct and substantial factor in causing the death;
3. The death would not have happened without the act.
A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all of the circumstances established by the evidence. A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it does not need to be the only factor that caused the death. The terms ‘care or custody’ do not imply a familial relationship but only a willingness to assume duties correspondent to the role of a caregiver.
A conviction for causing death or paralysis to a minor is a felony only offense. If you are found guilty of a violation of PC 273ab(a) for causing death to a minor under 8 years old, you could be sentenced to 25 years to life in State Prison. If you are convicted under PC 273ab(b), by causing paralysis, you would face a punishment of 7 years to life in State Prison. You would be required to serve at least 80% of that time in custody. This would be considered a “Super Strike” in California since the punishment is death or life imprisonment upon a conviction. You could also be subject to stiff fines and fees, and civil lawsuits that could last forever. A violation under PC 273ab(a) or PC 273ab(b) is a strike offense in California, subjecting you to California’s Three Strike Law. It also would likely lead to an automatic loss of your Professional License, and immediate deportation under Immigration Law.
IV. Common Defenses
There are several elements to this charge that make it easily defensible if you find the right representation. For example, if you were not aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that your act by its nature would directly and probably result in great bodily injury to the child, then you cannot be found guilty of this charge. This could be anything that it’s done to the child, that a reasonable person would not think that the act would result in the injury or death to the child.
In another example, if you were reasonably disciplining your child during normal parental punishment, then that can act as a defense to the charges here. It depends on the level and degree of what you do that lead to the injury, and that is why the term “reasonable” is included. If the discipline is not reasonable, according to an objective standard, then you cannot say you were simply disciplining your child.
V. Call Today
This is an extremely serious charge and can land you in State Prison for the remainder of your life. It is not easy case, an extremely stressful one where your life can be hanging in the balance. Finding the right Attorney for you can be the difference in a short custody stay, and the rest of your life in Prison. Our PC 273ab Ontario attorney has successfully defended numerous cases involving child abuse cases involving death or paralysis under PC 273ab(a) and PC 273ab(b). The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.