A person who is under 18 years of age is legally considered a child in Utah. Child abandonment under Utah Code § 76-5-109(4) or inflicting a personal injury upon a child constitutes child abuse. A parent or legal guardian may be accused of child abandonment if he or she intentionally ceases to maintain physical custody of the child, intentionally fails to make reasonable arrangements for the safety, care, and physical custody of the child, and:
Child abandonment does not include safe relinquishment of a newborn child or giving legal consent to a court order for termination of parental rights in a legal adoption proceeding or in a case where a petition for the termination of parental rights, or the termination of a guardianship, has been filed.
All child neglect accusations are aggressively prosecuted in Utah. Certain crimes constitute felony offenses, and alleged offenders face very lengthy prison sentences as well as large fines if convicted.
If you think that you might be under investigation or you were already arrested for child abuse or abandonment in Utah, it is in your best interest to make sure that you have legal representation before making any kind of statement to authorities. Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law defends clients in communities all over Weber County and Salt Lake County.
Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Susanne Gustin has received Martindale-Hubble's AV Preeminent Rating, the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standard. Call (801) 243-2814 today to have our attorney review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free, confidential consultation.
Child abuse charges involve alleged offenders inflicting physical injuries or serious physical injuries upon children. A physical injury is defined under Utah Code § 76-5-109(e) as meaning "an injury to or condition of a child which impairs the physical condition of the child," including:
Utah Code § 76-5-109(f)(i) defines a serious physical injury as any physical injury or set of injuries that:
Under Utah Code § 76-5-109(f)(ii), the phrase serious physical injury includes:
Another critical element to the classification of child abuse or child abandonment criminal charges is the culpability, or legal responsibility, of the alleged offender. Utah Code § 76-2-103 provides the following definitions for culpability:
Utah Code § 76-5-109(3), any person who inflicts upon a child physical injury or, having the care or custody of such child, causes or permits another to inflict physical injury upon a child can face the following charges, depending on his or her degree of culpability:
When any person inflicts serious physical injury upon a child or, having the care or custody of such child, causes or permits another to inflict serious physical injury upon a child, Utah Code § 76-5-109(2) establishes the following charges according to an alleged offender's degree of culpability:
Under Utah Code § 76-5-109(4), a person who commits child abandonment, or encourages or causes another to commit child abandonment, or an enterprise that encourages, commands, or causes another to commit child abandonment, will be charged with a second-degree felony if, as a result of the child abandonment:
In all other cases, child abandonment is a third-degree felony.
Utah Code § 76-5-109(6) establishes that a parent or legal guardian will not be considered to have committed a child abuse or child abandonment offense if he or she provides a child with treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer, in lieu of medical treatment, in accordance with the tenets and practices of an established church or religious denomination of which the parent or legal guardian is a member or adherent. Similarly, Utah Code § 76-5-109(7) states that a parent or guardian of a child does not commit a violation by selecting a treatment option for the medical condition of the child, if the treatment option is one that a reasonable parent or guardian would believe to be in the best interest of the child.
Under Utah Code § 76-5-109(8), an individual also cannot be found guilty of child abuse or child abandonment if his or her conduct constitutes:
Preventing Child Maltreatment | Utah Department of Health | Utah.gov — The mission of the Utah Department of Health is "to protect the public’s health through preventing avoidable illness, injury, disability, and premature death; assuring access to affordable, quality health care; and promoting healthy lifestyles." Visit the Violence & Injury Protection Program (VIPP) section of the Department of Health website to learn more about preventing child maltreatment. You can also find specific topical information for kids and teens relating to child fatalities, dating violence, and child maltreatment
Utah Department of Health
Cannon Health Building
288 North 1460 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
Prevention | Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) | Utah.gov — On this section of the DCFS website, you can learn more about parenting classes, evidence-based home visitation programs, and statewide community and school-based education presentations. You can also find a crisis nursery, access Protective Offender Action Sheets, and find additional information about the agency. The website also has information about One With Courage Utah, Prevent Child Abuse Utah, and other resources for families.
Division of Child and Family Services
195 N. 1950 W.
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
Were you arrested or do you believe that you could be under investigation for a child abuse or child abandonment crime in Utah? Do not say anything to authorities until you have contacted Susanne Gustin Attorney at Law.
Susanne Gustin is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Salt Lake City who represents individuals in locations throughout Salt Lake County and Weber County. She can provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (801) 243-2814 or submit an online contact form to receive a free initial consultation.
This article was last updated by Jordan Anderson, on July 30th, 2018.