2002 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Scoper
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 97-5-39, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE OFFENSE OF ABUSE OR NEGLECT OF A CHILD; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 97-5-39, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-5-39. (1) Any parent, guardian or other person who willfully commits any act or omits the performance of any duty, which act or omission contributes to or tends to contribute to the neglect or delinquency of any child or which act or omission results in the abuse and/or battering of any child, as defined in Section 43-21-105(m) of the Youth Court Law or who knowingly aids any child in escaping or absenting himself from the guardianship or custody of any person, agency or institution, or knowingly harbors or conceals or aids in harboring or concealing any child who has absented himself without permission from the guardianship or custody of any person, agency or institution to which such child shall have been committed by the youth court shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not to exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment not to exceed one (1) year in jail, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(2) Any person who shall intentionally (a) burn any child, (b) torture any child or, (c) except in self-defense or in order to prevent bodily harm to a third party, whip, strike or otherwise abuse or mutilate any child in such a manner as to cause serious bodily harm, shall be guilty of felonious abuse and/or battery of a child and, upon conviction, may be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary for not more than twenty (20) years.
(3) Any person who is responsible for the safety or welfare of a child under the age of four (4), including, but not limited to, the child's parent, stepparent, guardian, school teacher or baby sitter who recklessly or negligently causes or allows the child to suffer physical, mental or emotional injury, or who recklessly or negligently deprives the child of any of the basic necessities of life, shall be punished by a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or by imprisonment not to exceed fifteen (15) years, or both.
(4) Nothing contained in this section shall prevent proceedings against such parent, guardian or other person under any statute of this state or any municipal ordinance defining any act as a crime or misdemeanor. Nothing in the provisions of this section shall preclude any person from having a right to trial by jury when charged with having violated the provisions of this section.
(5) After consultation with the Department of Public Welfare, a regional mental health center or an appropriate professional person, a judge may suspend imposition or execution of a sentence provided in subsections (1) and (2) of this section and in lieu thereof require treatment over a specified period of time at any approved public or private treatment facility.
(6) In any proceeding resulting from a report made pursuant to Section 43-21-353 of the Youth Court Law, the testimony of the physician making the said report regarding the child's injuries or condition or cause thereof shall not be excluded on the ground that such physician's testimony violates the physician-patient privilege or similar privilege or rule against disclosure. The physician's report shall not be considered as evidence unless introduced as an exhibit to his testimony.
(7) Any criminal prosecution arising from a violation of this section shall be tried in the circuit, county, justice or municipal court having jurisdiction; provided, however, that nothing herein shall abridge or dilute the contempt powers of the youth court.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.