Adrian Peterson Child Abuse Charges – Illegal in Alabama?Trey Malbrough
Adrian Peterson Child Abuse – or Discipline?
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s recent arrest and indictment brought the issues of child abuse and corporal punishment squarely into the public arena. The terms draw vastly different reactions.
Adrian Peterson is accused of repeatedly striking his 4-year-old son with a switch – or a short, thin tree branch – causing cuts, bruises, and blisters on the child’s body.
In Alabama, parents and stepparents are allowed to use reasonable physical force to discipline children in their family. The corporal punishment must be reasonably warranted by the misconduct of the child. The parent must act conscientiously and the corporal punishment must come from a place of duty.
This means that you cannot spank a child for asking for candy in line at Wal-Mart, and you cannot hit them with a switch every time they misbehave. Whatever punishment is given must be restrained and given sparingly, and must be appropriate under the circumstances. The possible different facts in each situation are infinite; ultimately, if a parent or guardian is charged with child abuse, a jury will decide whether that person’s behavior was appropriate.
If Adrian Peterson’s case was tried in Alabama, a jury would decide whether Mr. Peterson was reasonable in his belief that the discipline and physical force he used was appropriate under the circumstances. Malaysia If the jury considered the injuries inflicted on his son to be excessive or substantially traumatic, it would not matter whether Adrian Peterson believed his actions were reasonable. He would be very likely be found liable and, more importantly, guilty of child abuse.
What is the difference between corporal punishment and child abuse in Alabama?
Alabama Code Section 13A-3-24 states the following:
“Use of force by persons with parental, custodial or special responsibilities.
The use of force upon another person is justified under any of the following circumstances:
(1) A parent, guardian or other person responsible for the care and supervision of a minor or an incompetent person, and a teacher or other person responsible for the care and supervision of a minor for a special purpose, may use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon the minor or incompetent person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary and appropriate to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of the minor or incompetent person.”
The above code section on parents and discipline is a defense to physical punishment of a child. It is not a ticket to do whatever one wants to a child. In fact, it is a defense that – especially in today’s world – may quickly get thrown by the wayside and have your children taken from your custody.
In Alabama, the Department of Human Resources (DHR) is very good at what they do and will immediately get involved in a family situation if there is an allegation of abuse. Additionally, Alabama is a mandatory reporting state with a wide range of people from doctors, nurses, teachers, counselors, daycare workers and others who are required by law to report the possibility of child abuse.
The Alabama Criminal Code does not differentiate between child abuse, domestic violence, assault and corporal punishment. It states that willfully harming someone, including a child, is assault; harming a child that is their child is domestic violence; repeatedly harming a child is aggravated child abuse.
The Alabama Code Section on child abuse may be found at the following link: Alabama Criminal Code.
Unless Adrian Peterson negotiates a plea bargain through his criminal defense attorney, a jury will ultimately decide if Adrian Peterson’s actions toward his son were child abuse. The Adrian Peterson case and a study of Alabama case law each show how discipline of children is a difficult topic.