Under Georgia law, a person can be convicted of cruelty to children in the first, second, or third degree. In order to be charged with cruelty to children, the person must be a parent, guardian, or other person supervising the welfare of or having immediate charge or custody of a child under the age of eighteen. First degree cruelty to children occurs when any person maliciously causes a child cruel or excessive physical or mental pain or deprives the child of necessary sustenance to the extent that the child's health or well-being is jeopardized. Cruelty to children in the second degree occurs when any person causes a child excessive physical or mental pain through that person's criminal negligence. Cruelty to children in the third degree occurs when the primary aggressor in a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery intentionally allows a child to witness the crime or knowingly commits the crime when a child is present and the child sees or hears the act. Cruelty to children in the first degree is punished as a felony with a minimum of five years imprisonment. Second degree is punished as a felony with a minimum of one year imprisonment. Third degree is punished as a misdemeanor for the first and second conviction. Thereafter, third degree cruelty to children is punished as a felony with a fine and/or a minimum of one year imprisonment. When an individual is charged with cruelty to children, it can be an incredibly emotional and confusing experience. The charges are serious and often involve complex and sensitive legal work. As with any criminal charge, it is important to discuss your charge with an attorney who has experience with criminal law. If you would like to set up a consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys regarding a cruelty to children offense, please call Miller & Brown, P.C. at (770) 461-2025.