July 30, 2022 By Stephen Klarich

The Case of the Turpin Children 

The tragic case of the Turpin children from California came to light four years ago and has since resurfaced after a report was released last week on how the social services system failed the 13 children after they were rescued from their parents. In January 2018, then-17-year-old Jordan Turpin escaped her parents’ home and called police, telling the officers that her siblings were being starved, chained to beds, and forced to live in squalor. The siblings, aged 2 to 29, slept during the day, were only active a few hours at night, and had minimal education. Their parents are currently serving sentences of 25 years to life in state prison.

Last year, it was discovered that the siblings received poor care after entering the child welfare system. They continued living in crime-ridden neighborhoods with no access to money or education. After this report, Riverside County Executive Officer hired a law firm to analyze the services provided and the quality of care the children received under the system. The firm found that some of the Turpin children were forced to live with people who were later charged with child abuse, and some of the adult siblings struggled with housing and food insecurity. 

Since the investigation, prosecutors have charged a Perris couple and their adult daughter with abuse. Two of the Turpin girls placed in their foster home were sexually abused by the father, and other foster children were physically assaulted. The couple and their daughter have pleaded not guilty to child cruelty and other felony charges. The report concluded that the county’s social services system was short-staffed and underfunded, making it hard to ensure safety and care for all children in the system. However, the county’s public guardian office has recently gathered over $1 million that was donated on the children’s behalf.

Child Abuse Laws in California 

Child abuse is one of the most serious crimes that a person can be charged with, with strict penalties under California law. As defined by California Penal Code Section 273d, child abuse is a willful infliction upon a child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or an injury resulting in a traumatic condition. This crime is a wobbler offense, meaning that it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor based on the circumstances of the case. 

Generally, minor first offenses will be charged as a misdemeanor if the punishment is not “cruel or inhuman” or did not result in a traumatic condition for the child. Misdemeanor child abuse is punishable by: 

  • Up to $6,000 in fines 
  • Up to 1 year in county jail 

The crime is more likely to be charged as a felony if the conduct was particularly cruel or there was serious injury to the child, or if the defendant has a criminal record. The penalties for a felony conviction are more severe and include: 

  • Up to $6,000 in fines 
  • 2, 4, or 6 years in county jail 

Additional sentence enhancements exist for second or subsequent convictions of the crime. If the abuse results in the child dying, entering a comatose state, or suffering permanent paralysis, the defendant can be sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison. 

While the law should protect vulnerable children, some allegations of child abuse stem from misunderstandings or false accusations. The consequences of a false child abuse allegation can be devastating and life-changing. A conviction can mean hefty fines and jail sentences, as well as damage to your reputation and relationships. If you are falsely accused of child abuse in Southern California, it is crucial that you hire an expert defense team immediately to clear your name and restore your freedom. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you have been accused of child abuse in Southern California, contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in child abuse cases, and we have the skills and resources to help you as well. We know that these cases can be tough and stressful, but we will be there every step of the way. You can place your trust in us. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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