Child Abuse Penalties in Pennsylvania: Failure to Report

  • Mandated reporters are required by law to report when they have reasonable cause to suspect a child is the victim of abuse
  • A mandated reporter who willfully fails to make a report of suspected child abuse could face legal penalties, including fines and/or incarceration
  • These penalties increase with repeated violations 

23 Pa. C.S. § 6339. § 6319.  Penalties.

(a)  Failure to report or refer.–

    (1)  A person or official required by this chapter to report a case of suspected child abuse or to make a referral to the   appropriate authorities commits an offense if the person or official willfully fails to do so.

    (2)  An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree if:

        (i)  the person or official willfully fails to report;

        (ii)  the child abuse constitutes a felony of the first degree or higher; and

        (iii)  the person or official has direct knowledge of the nature of the abuse.

    (3)  An offense not otherwise specified in paragraph (2) is a misdemeanor of the second degree.

    (4)  A report of suspected child abuse to law enforcement or the appropriate county agency by a mandated reporter, made in lieu of a report to the department, shall not constitute an offense under this subsection, provided that the report was made in    a good faith effort to comply with the requirements of this chapter.

(b)  Continuing course of action.–If a person’s willful failure under subsection (a) continues while the person knows or has reasonable cause to believe the child is actively being subjected to child abuse, the person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, except that if the child abuse constitutes a felony of the first degree or higher, the person commits a felony of the third degree.

(c)  Multiple offenses.–A person who commits a second or subsequent offense under subsection (a) commits a felony of the third degree, except that if the child abuse constitutes a felony of the first degree or higher, the penalty for the second or subsequent offenses is a felony of the second degree.

(d)  Statute of limitations.–The statute of limitations for an offense under subsection (a) shall be either the statute of limitations for the crime committed against the minor child or five years, whichever is greater.

Willful failure to report that continues while you know or have reasonable cause to suspect that child abuse is occurring is considered a misdemeanor of the first degree.
However, if the child abuse is considered a felony of the first degree or higher, this continual failure to report becomes a felony of the third degree.

If you fail to report suspected child abuse multiple times, the offense is considered a felony of the third degree.However, if the child abuse is considered a felony of the first degree or higher, the offense becomes a felony in the second degree. 

 

However, if the child abuse is considered a felony of the first degree or higher, the offense becomes a felony in the second degree. 

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