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Law Offices of Benita Ventresca408-395-8822
20 S. Santa Cruz Ave., Suite 212, Los Gatos, CA 95030
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California family lawyerChildren deserve to have their health and safety protected, whether they are at home, at school, or under the supervision of a daycare provider, coach, or doctor. In order to safeguard children from the threat of abuse, the state of California has put legal measures in place to ensure that potential cases of child abuse or neglect are reported and investigated. When a person is being investigated for suspected child abuse, they should understand the processes that will be followed, their rights in the investigation, and the potential outcomes.

Reports of Suspected Abuse or Neglect

According to the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), a person who reasonably suspects that a child has been the victim of abuse or neglect can make a report to a law enforcement agency. Certain “mandated reporters,” such as teachers, doctors, therapists, members of the clergy, or day care center employees, are required by law to make these reports.


California family lawyerChild abuse is a serious offense in the state of California. Reports of suspected abuse will trigger an investigation that can result in an alleged abuser being placed on the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI). Inclusion in the CACI can affect a person’s employability in certain industries, their ability to volunteer for certain organizations, and their eligibility to adopt a child or act as a foster parent. When facing accusations of child abuse, it is important to understand what exactly constitutes abuse or neglect under California law.

The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) (California Penal Code Article 2.5) defines the following acts as child abuse or neglect:

  • Injury - Physical harm or death inflicted non-accidentally upon a child.
  • Sexual abuse - Acts consisting of (1) sexual assault, including rape, statutory rape, incest, lewd or lascivious acts upon a child, or sexual contact with a child, or (2) sexual exploitation, including the depiction of children engaging in obscene acts, compensating children for performing sexual acts, accessing or distributing child pornography, or sexual trafficking.
  • Neglect - Negligent treatment or mistreatment of a child by a person responsible for their care, resulting in a threat to the child’s health or welfare. Neglect falls into two categories: (1) severe neglect, which consists of failing to protect a child from severe malnutrition or wilfully causing or permitting a child’s health or person to be in danger, and (2) general neglect, which consists of the failure to provide a child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, supervision, or medical care, even if a child is not physically injured as a result.
  • Child endangerment - Wilfully endangering a child’s health or safety, including inflicting or allowing unjustified physical or mental pain or permitting a child to be placed in a situation in which they are in danger of harm.
  • Unlawful corporal punishment - Willfully inflicting cruel or inhuman punishment or causing an injury which results in a traumatic condition. The law makes exceptions for the use of reasonable force to deal with a threat of physical injury or property damage at a public school, including acts of self-defense and actions taken to remove weapons or dangerous objects from a pupil’s possession.

California law defines a child as someone under the age of 18. Harm suffered in a conflict between minors is not considered child abuse and reasonable force used by a police officer who is carrying out their duties does not constitute child abuse or neglect.


California family lawyerChild abuse is an ongoing concern in the state of California, and the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) is designed to help protect children who may be at risk. Under this law, reports of suspected child abuse or neglect will result in an investigation, and if a social worker finds that the report is substantiated--meaning that they believe the alleged abuse was likely to have occurred--the suspected abuser will have their name added to the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI), in addition to any criminal charges and personal repercussions they may face.

Mandated Reporters

CANRA states that certain people are required to report suspected child abuse or neglect to a police department, sheriff’s department, county probation department, or county welfare department. These people are known as “mandated reporters,” and they include:


California family lawyerRestraining orders, also called protective orders, are designed to stop harassment, sexual abuse, and physical abuse. Commonly, restraining orders are used to protect one family members, or intimate partner, from another. There are four types of restraining orders in California, and three aspects to each, which are described below. If you or a loved one is being harassed, stalked, or otherwise abused, a restraining order may be necessary. A Los Gatos family law attorney will be able to help you file for a restraining order so that protection begins as soon as possible.

What Will a Restraining Order Accomplish?

Under California law, there are four types of restraining orders:


California family lawyerIn the course of American cultural discourse, one becomes familiar with the concept of a premarital agreement. Strangely, however, there is less familiarity with two other relationship-related agreements: 1) postnuptial agreements, and 2) cohabitation agreements. This is especially the case with regard to the latter, which pertains to unmarried couples. If you are unmarried but living with your partner, it may be wise to consider entering into a written cohabitation agreement to make clear the present and future support intended or not intended. In creating a legally effective California cohabitation agreement, rely on an experienced Saratoga family law attorney.

Specifying Support and Separate Property in a Cohabitation Agreement

In modern America, some couples commit to one another while explicitly choosing to remain apart from the institution of marriage. Sometimes this decision is entwined with a rejection of the patriarchy. Other times, the choice is intuitive – personal rather than political. When a union not formalized through marriage dissolves, however, the division of the union’s economic community – its assets and liabilities – can become contentious and complex.

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Law Offices of Benita Ventresca

20 S. Santa Cruz Ave., Suite 212
Los Gatos, CA 95030

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