At what point does a parent’s right to discipline his or her child turn into a felony?

Under Illinois law, parents who believe in corporal punishment may use it to discipline their children as long as such punishment is necessary and reasonable. Beyond that, you could be charged with domestic or aggravated battery.

So how do you know if you’ve crossed that line?

In Illinois, courts look at the following: (1) the degree of physical injury inflicted upon the child, (2) the likelihood of future punishment that may be more injurious, (3) the fact that any injury resulted from the discipline, (4) the psychological effects on the child, and (5) the circumstances surrounding the discipline, including whether the parent was calmly attempting to discipline the child or whether the parent was lashing out in anger.

In People v. Parrott, the court held that a parent’s discipline was not reasonable or necessary where the parent hit a six-year-old child several times with a belt for eating a biscuit, and the child had welts on his legs.

In People v. Royster, the defendant was the fiancé of the child’s mother and had permission to discipline her two-year-old. After the child threw a tantrum at a doctor’s office, the defendant repeatedly struck the child until office workers intervened. A jury convicted the defendant for aggravated battery.

If you are charged with battery to a child, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not try to talk your way out of the situation because you could end up giving the state the evidence they need to convict you. While the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, the parent has the burden of showing that any discipline was in fact reasonable and necessary. Because the determination of reasonable and necessary is so fact specific, an attorney can help you present your situation in its best possible light.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Spread the love
This entry was posted in aggravated battery, battery, child abuse, child discipline, spanking. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply