A six year old Lynn, Massachusetts girl needed shoes brought up to her elementary school. The girl’s mother, Rosilda Lopez was called and became upset. The twenty eight year old mother went to the school and hit the girl in the face two times. The reason: wearing the wrong pair of shoes. Another child witnessed the incident. This child told school officials. It turns out that a school surveillance camera caught Lopez committing the act. Lopez has now been charged with two counts of Assault and Battery in the Lynn District Court.
Lynn, Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney
So here is the question raised by this case. Just how far can a parent go in physically disciplining his or her child? The answer is not easy. Spanking is a form of Assault and Battery. Yet spanking has not been outlawed in Massachusetts. In 2007 there was a bill placed before the Massachusetts Legislature proposing a ban on spanking. That bill never passed. Nevertheless, in Massachusetts Assault and Battery cases are brought against parents who have hit their children. In my opinion the line between “spanking” and Assault and Battery has not been adequately distinguished by Massachusetts law. There is a proposed jury instruction which read that a “parent, or one acting in the position of a parent and who has assumed the responsibilities of a parent, may use reasonable force to discipline (his/her) minor child. However, a parent may not use excessive force as a means of discipline or chastisement.” Yet all of the Massachusetts cases that discuss spanking conclude that the conduct by the defendant was excessive and thus did not constitute spanking but rather an Assault and Battery. As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I would be concerned any time law enforcement got involved in a matter that the parent characterized as a spanking. Chances are strong that such cases will be prosecuted and most judges will not be helpful to the defense in resolving the case.
Here however the situation is likely different. Lopez’s actions are not likely to be justified if 1) the videotape shows excessive physical conduct on her part and 2) if the reason was wearing the wrong pair of shoes. Additionally, the involvement of the Department of Children and Families will complicate the defense. Lopez will want to cooperate with DCF to prevent losing custody of her daughter. There is however a risk to doing so with a pending criminal case. Lopez has a Fifth Amendment privilege that most lawyers would advise her to invoke at least until the criminal case is resolved. The conflicting dynamic between the DCF case and the criminal matter will likely lead to an expeditious resolution of the Assault and Battery case.
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, PC defends all criminal matters throughout Massachusetts and the country. We are always available to talk to you if you have a criminal matter. Call us at 617-263-6800 or send us an email. We can help you with your case.