Rincon, Ga. - According to reports out of Effingham County, two out of the five individuals arrested in the deaths of two teenagers have pleaded guilty.
The bodies of the two teenagers were found buried behind a mobile home in 2018. Police and investigators believe that the two teenagers were abused and forced to live in a cage before they both were reported as missing. This case in particular has brought attention and criticism to the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I will focus on one of the offenses - cruelty to children as it is outlined by law in the state of Georgia.
Cruelty to Children in Georgia
The crime of cruelty to children in Georgia is outlined in the Georgia Code in O.C.G.A. § 16-5-70. The statute, as I mentioned above, breaks down the offense into three different degrees.
First-degree cruelty to children occurs when a parent, guardian, or other person supervising a child under the age of 18 willfully deprives the child of necessary sustenance to the extent that the child's well-being is jeopardized. In addition, cruelty to children in the first degree includes when a person maliciously causes a child under the age of 18 cruel or excessive physical or mental pain.
Second-degree cruelty to children occurs when a person with criminal negligence causes a child less than 18 years old cruel or excessive physical or mental pain.
Third-degree cruelty to children occurs when either a person, who is the primary aggressor, intentionally allows a child under the age of 18 to witness the commission of a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery; or a person, who is the primary aggressor, having knowledge that a child under the age of 18 is present and sees or hears the act, commits a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery.
Cruelty to children is considered a felony in Georgia. The penalty can include up to twenty years in prison. The only exception is with third-degree child cruelty - a judge has the discretion with this degree to charge it as a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
Call our office snow if you or a loved one has been arrested for a crime in Georgia. It is important that you hire knowledgeable representation.