Wisconsin Laws on Child Neglect - Wisconsin Criminal and Family Law Attorney

By Carlos Gamino

Under Wisconsin law, physical neglect is defined as “failure, refusal or inability on the part of a parent, guardian, legal custodian or other person exercising temporary or permanent control over a child, for reasons other than poverty, to provide necessary care, food, clothing, medical or dental care or shelter so as to seriously endanger the physical health of the child.”

The law is pretty clear. It says that anyone who is responsible for a child’s welfare who fails to ensure the child’s welfare is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

However, if:

  • Bodily harm is a consequence, it’s a Class H felony
  • Great bodily harm is a consequence, it’s a Class F felony
  • Death is a consequence, it’s a Class D felony

Each of those carries serious penalties, including imprisonment and hefty fines.

Who Reports Child Neglect?

In the state of Wisconsin, any concerned party can report child neglect to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Some people are required to report child abuse or neglect if they see it—they’re called mandated reporters—and they include:

  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Medical examiners
  • Dentists
  • Chiropractors
  • Optometrists
  • Acupuncturists
  • Medical or mental health professionals
  • Social workers
  • Marriage and family therapists
  • Professional counselors
  • Public assistance workers, such as some financial and employment planners
  • Teachers
  • School administrators
  • School counselors
  • Some mediators
  • Childcare workers in daycare centers, residential care centers for children and youth, or in some group homes
  • Daycare providers
  • Alcohol or other drug abuse counselors
  • Physical therapists and their assistants
  • Occupational therapists
  • Dieticians
  • Speech and language pathologists
  • Audiologists
  • Emergency medical technicians and other first-responders
  • Police and law enforcement officers
  • Court-appointed special advocates

What Happens to People Who Are Accused of Child Neglect?

The fact is that child neglect is a serious allegation in the state of Wisconsin—and if you’ve been accused of it, even if you’re innocent—it’s a good idea to get in touch with a child neglect defense attorney in Milwaukee who understands our laws and the way our court system works.

If someone has accused you of child neglect, call us as soon as possible at 414-383-6700 or get in touch with us online. We’ll evaluate your case and help you get the best possible outcome.

Carlos Gamino