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Can Criminal Charges Be Brought Against a Day Care Center Worker for Assault on a Child?

By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network


Parents rely on day care centers for the proper care and supervision of their children. Unfortunately, there are some day care owners and staff members who should never be in charge of children because they lack the patience, training, and common sense to properly care for children. At times, a child care provider / day care provider loses his or her patience and assaults child at the day care center.

The days in which corporal punishment was common in homes and care center are long gone. When a child is it pushed, punched, whipped, belted, or assaulted at a dayc are center, a parent often questions whether the day care provider or worker can be arrested and charged criminally for the act related to his or her child. The simple answer to this question is “Yes.” Like other legal matter each case must be evaluated by its facts and circumstances. It is not up to the day care center or parent for that matter to make the ultimate decision as to the filing of criminal charges. These decisions are typically up to the local law enforcement agency along with the state attorney whether criminal charges should be pursued. Most criminal offenses are fine by statute and interpreted and applied by law enforcement of the office of the State Attorney / Prosecutor.

When making a decision as to pursue criminal charges, law enforcement officers and prosecutors will evaluate whether the elements of a crime can be proven. One element that is key to the criminal prosecution is Intent.

Did the daycare worker intend on heating or assaulting the child?

Was the conduct of the daycare worker intentional or reckless in nature?

In some cases, filing of criminal charges will be based in part on the egregiousness or offensiveness of the alleged criminal activity. In other cases law-enforcement and state to state attorney will base their respective decisions on the harm, injuries, or damages caused by the acts of the day care provider. It should be noted that a criminal prosecution is much different than the pursuit of a civil claim case against a day care worker or provider. In particular the degree of proof required for each case differs. The State must prove the elements of a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt. On the other hand in a civil case, the plaintiff usually through the services of a Child Injury Lawyer must prove the elements of a civil case in most States by a preponderance of the evidence which is greater weight of the evidence OR a similar type of stanard. In most civil cases, there are four elements to a civil case or claim against a day care center:

1. Duty;

2. Breach of Duty;

3. Causation; and

4. Damages.

Some civil cases are defined by statute and the Plaintiff must meet the elements of the statute. Other civil cases are bound by common-law negligence which is essentially a reasonable care standard. If a child has been injured at a day care center or while under the care of the day care center, it is important for a parent to consult a Child Injury Lawyer regarding the rights of the injured child. The parent should seek a advice regarding the possibility of a civil case, the likelihood of a criminal prosecution, and other matters.

The book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.

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