“Is Spanking Legal In California?”

Yes, spanking is legal in California, but it does come with some risks in California, particularly in contested and contentious family law cases. Parents often have different views of spanking, and can complain to the court if they feel there is inappropriate discipline. Reports can also be made to law enforcement, which can have adverse consequences.
The general rule is that spanking cannot be excessive or unwarranted under the circumstances. Does this seem vague to you? It is. A judge or jury can consider all the surrounding circumstances, such as the type of instrument used for the spanking, whether there are any injuries from the spanking, and why spanking was used. This can include whether or not the party giving the discipline tried other methods first.

In family law cases, disputes over spanking usually end with an order for no corporal punishment by either parent as a form of discipline. Judges tend to want to protect children, and one parent believing that the punishment is excessive is usually a pretty good indicator to the judge that it might be a problem. If this order is made in your case, you need to respect it and find other methods of discipline. There are quite a few books and methods on this subject, and you would be well-advised to take the issue seriously and do some reading on the subject so that you can form a plan of discipline that will actually work.

The other possible consequences of spanking are outlined in California Penal Code 273(d), which defines child abuse as the infliction of any “cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or an injury resulting in a traumatic condition.”

This same standard will be used by Child Protective Services in investigating child abuse complaints. The same review of all relevant circumstances will be made in both criminal cases and CPS investigations.

The overall take-away is that while spanking is legal, you should make sure that you are using it in a non-excessive manner and without injuries, and you should be aware of other options for discipline, particularly if you are involved in a family law case.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.

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