Sharron Dobbins, a mom of two teenage boys, was arrested on Easter when she allegedly used a taser on her seventeen year old son. When her teenager decided that he would rather hang out with friends on Easter Sunday, and, Dobbins, according to the police report, tased her son on the leg.
This situation occurred in Arizona, and Dobbins was charged with felony child abuse.
All states have statutes that protect against child abuse. In Georgia, we have cruelty to children laws. As a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, I'd like to use today's post to show what cruelty to children laws look like here in Georgia.
Cruelty to children in Georgia is split into three different degrees by Georgia law.
O.C.G.A. §16-5-70 outlines the three different degrees and the corresponding penalties for each one.
1. First-Degree Cruelty to Children
According to O.C.G.A. §16-5-70 (a)-(b), first-degree cruelty to children is:
"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, or when a person maliciously causes a child under the age of 18 cruel or excessive physical or mental pain."
Cruelty to children in the first degree is a felony. The penalty for conviction is a prison sentence between five and twenty years.
2. Second-Degree Cruelty to Children
According to O.C.G.A. §16-5-70(c), second-degree cruelty to children is:
"When a person with criminal negligence causes a child less than 18 years old cruel or excessive physical or mental pain."
Cruelty to children in the second degree is a felony. The penalty for conviction is a prison sentence between five to ten years.
3. Third-Degree Cruelty to Children
According to O.C.G.A. §16-5-70(d), third-degree cruelty to children is:
"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 in the third degree is a misdemeanor. The penalty for conviction can include a jail sentence for up to 12 months, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
Dobbins' story is different from the police report though.
She says that she never even touched her son with the taser, only sparking the device while standing in the doorway to his room. According to his interview with a local news station, her son has said that he deeply regrets his decision to call the police over the ordeal and doesn't want to see her prosecuted.
Who knows what the real story is here? The point that should be taken away is that more times than we would like to admit, people end up wrongly accused and charged. Here, at Lawson and Berry, we never assume someone's guilt just because he or she has been charged with a crime.