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Child Neglect Law, Sentence, & Defense
PC 270 Crimes

Information on the crime of child neglect is found at California penal code section 270.

Child Neglect Law


PC 270: If a parent of a minor child willfully omits, without lawful excuse, to furnish necessary clothing, food, shelter or medical attendance, or other remedial care for his or her child, he or she is guilty of a child neglect (Abbreviated)

Notice Requirement: A person is the parent of a minor child, by birth or by voluntary declaration of paternity. In order to be found guilty of child neglect, the parent must have notice of such adjudication and thereafter willfully omits, without lawful excuse, to furnish necessary clothing, food, shelter, medical attendance or other remedial care for his or her child.


Note: A person is not relieved of his or her responsibility to provide for a child just because the other parent of the child, or a third person, or an organization voluntarily or involuntarily provides such necessary food, clothing, shelter or medical attendance. The court will consider the parent's ability to support his or her child in PC 270 cases.

For child neglect cases, it does not matter whether or not the child's parents were ever married or are divorced. Also, it does not matter that there is no child support order in place.

PC 270 Sentence

PC 270 is charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If the defendant is found guilty of misdemeanor child neglect he or she could face up to one year in jail. If the defendant is found guilty of felony child neglect he or she could face up to one year and a day in prison (very similar to the sentence for a misdemeanor conviction for PC 270 except that incarceration for felony PC 270 is served in state prison, as opposed to county jail for a misdemeanor conviction of the same charge.

Probation: Probation sentences are allowed in PC 270 cases. A probation sentence is a period of supervision, with or without some jail, in lieu of jail or prison. Some probation sentence include actual jail, but jail sentences related to child neglect convictions may usually be served alternatively on work release or house arrest.

PC 1170(a): If found guilty of felony child neglect, and a probation sentence is denied, the defendant must serve his or her time in state prison (as opposed to county jail) and no part of that prison sentence may be split (served partially in prison and partially out of prison on work release or house arrest) or suspended (not serve served unless a condition of release from custody is violated).

Three Strikes Law: PC 270 is not considered a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Law.

Immigration: PC 270 is not a crime involving moral turpitude. However, for immigration purposes, felony child neglect is considered an aggravated felony if the defendant is actually sentenced to prison. Aggravated felonies carry special consequences for non U.S. citizens.

Bail: $25,000 for felony PC 270 charges; $5,000 for misdemeanor PC 270 charges. It might be possible for a defendant to be release on his or her own recognizance (OR) in child neglect cases depending on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history (among other factors); however, when the court allows a defendant to be release on his or her own recognizance in child neglect cases, the court will usually grant temporary criminal protective orders (CPO) against the defendant and in favor of the alleged child victim. This often means the defendant must move temporarily out of his or her own home if the child resides with the defendant.

In addition to the punishment of incarceration, if found guilty of child neglect (PC 270) the defendant could face the following penalties: criminal protective orders, fines and fees, restitution, placement on the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI), firearm prohibition, professional licensing consequences, loss of family law rights to child custody and visitation, denial of entry into the military, and more.

PC 270 Defense

Common defenses to a charge of child neglect include: insufficient evidence, mistake of fact, intoxication, insanity, statute of limitations, jury nullification, illegal search and seizure, coerced confessions, right to use reasonable corporal punishment, and more.

If you have been arrested or charged with the crime of child neglect, or PC 270, contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. We have full time criminal defense lawyers and family law lawyers ready to answer all of your questions. Call today!


Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Failure to Provide for a Child

Code: PC 270 (CalCrim No. 821 et seq.)

Wobbler: Yes. PC 270 is a wobbler crime. This means that PC 270 may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.


Incarceration:Felony PC 270 jail sentence range: 1 year and 1 day (if probation not granted). Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.

Probation: Probation is available in PC 270 cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

PC 1170(h)): No. PC 270 is not subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any incarceration ordered after a conviction, that is not part of a probation sentence, must be served in state prison (as opposed to county jail), and the prison sentence may not be split or suspended.

Strike: PC 270 is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 270 is not a crime involving moral turpitude


Firearms: Felony PC 270 convictions bar defendant from owning or possessing a firearm. 

Bail: $25,000 (Felony); $5,000 (Misdemeanor) (San Bernardino)

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