Wirth Law Office - SapulpaWhat Constitutes Oklahoma Child Abuse?

Oklahoma child abuseOklahoma child abuse is defined by numerous laws, and there is some overlap among them. All of the statutes are broad in their application. Thus, this allows prosecutors broad discretion regarding the charging and prosecution of offenders.

Defining Oklahoma Child Abuse

Oklahoma child abuse is defined as the willful or malicious threat of or actual harm to a child or the failure to protect a child from real or threatened harm to their health, safety, or welfare. This law covers a lot of territory. The harm can be physical, mental or emotional, and it includes willfully or maliciously injuring, torturing, or maiming a child. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 843.5

Also, the harm or threatened harm must be non-accidental. Okla. Stat. tit. 10A § 1-1-105

While this statute encompasses major trauma to a child, it can also include such things as starving a child, preventing adequate healthcare when it is needed, and hitting or striking a child. It can also include mental or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

Specifics under the Oklahoma child abuse statute include:

Neglect: The failure to provide adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care, supervision, or other necessities of life.

Physical Abuse: The non-accidental physical injury of a child.

Sexual Abuse: All sexual activity with a child including the propositioning of a child to engage in sexual contact.

Mental or Emotional Abuse: Emotional injury to a child sustained through continued rejection, criticism, isolation, or exploitation.

Enablers are Not Immune to Prosecution

A caretaker who knowingly permits the abuse of that child can be charged with permitting child abuse by injury even if they did not abuse the child directly. This is called enabling the abuse.

Enabling child abuse means causing, procuring, or permitting any willful or malicious act or the threat of harm to a child. It includes the failure to protect a child from harm.

That means that a mother or father who turns a blind eye to the abuse perpetrated by the other parent may be charged with child abuse by injury under this statute. Consequently, both parents may be prosecuted.


Spanking is not against the law. A parent is allowed to use “ordinary force” in the punishment of a child, such as spanking, switching, or paddling.

However, if that force leaves marks such as welts or bruising, it is no longer considered to be “ordinary force.” Therefore, it is likely that a parent could be charged with child abuse by injury.


Child abuse by injury is a felony offense. This crime is punishable by anywhere from one year in county jail to life imprisonment, a fine between $500 and $5,000, or both.

If the abuse is sexual and the child is under 12, the crime is punishable by 25 years to life in prison.

Therefore, if you are facing charges for Oklahoma child abuse, you need the help of an experienced Sapulpa criminal defense attorney to build a strong defense.

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