California’s Mandated Reporter Laws

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California’s Mandated Reporter Laws

Learn more about who should be looking out for your kids

Under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), the State of California has designated certain individuals as mandated reporters. If an individual fails to report an act of child abuse, or of suspected child abuse, he or she could be held liable for any injuries sustained by your child. At Taylor & Ring, we have successfully represented clients and their children in claims against mandated reporters who failed those children. Please contact us in Los Angeles to learn more.

What is CANRA?

Per the State of California, “5 children die every day from child abuse and neglect,” and “nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S. annually.” In an effort to reduce the number of children who are abused each year, the state passed CANRA.

CANRA is a set of laws designed to “protect children from abuse and neglect. In any investigation of suspected child abuse or neglect, all persons participating in the investigation of the case shall consider the needs of the child victim and shall do whatever is necessary to prevent psychological harm to the child victim.”

Sexual assault and CANRA

Sexual abuse of a child (any person under the age of 18), including sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and sexual trafficking, falls under the umbrella term of “abuse and neglect.” A child does not need to have been penetrated by an abuser to be protected by CANRA.

What is a mandated reporter?

Under CANRA, certain individuals are required – by law – to report any suspected or known child abuse or maltreatment to law enforcement, or to their county’s child welfare department. Most mandated reporters are people who work in industries and environments with children, including:

  • Teachers
  • Instructional aides
  • Guidance counselors
  • School administrators
  • Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel
  • EMTs
  • Paid firefighters (volunteers are exempt)
  • Therapists
  • Case workers
  • Any and all members of law enforcement
  • Medical examiners and coroners
  • Members of the clergy
  • Coaches

When can a mandated reporter be liable in a sexual assault claim?

If your child was a victim of sexual assault, abuse, or exploitation, and a mandated reporter failed to act, he or she could be held liable for your child’s injuries. This could include:

  • Failing to report physical signs of abuse or assault
  • Failing to report confessions made by the abuser or the victim
  • Failing to call the authorities immediately
  • Failure to submit the paperwork within 36 hours
  • Actively attempting to cover up abuse
  • Passing responsibility up the chain of command, such as telling a supervisor or administrator, instead of calling the county welfare department or the police
  • Hiding evidence of complicity or negligence by another mandated reporter
  • Lying, or otherwise actively impeding an investigation
  • Failing to report because a supervisor tells you not to do so

Penalties for failing to report

If you fail to report a known or suspected act of abuse, you can be charged with a misdemeanor crime. The penalties can include up to 6 months in jail, and/or up to $1000 in fines. You may also be named in a civil lawsuit.

Immunity for good faith reporting

Under the law, any mandated reporter who believes that a child is being abused, and then reports that suspected abuse, is immune from criminal and civil penalties. In other words, if you report suspected abuse, but you turn out to be wrong, you cannot be charged with a crime, nor held liable for damages in civil court. If you take photos of the child to submit as a part of your report, you are also immune from liability.

However, if a mandated reporter knowingly or purposely files a false report, then he or she may be charged with a crime, and may be held liable for damages in civil court.

Child abuse and the Catholic seal of confession

Members of the clergy are already designated as mandatory reporters – with one glaring exclusion. Under the current law, priests are exempt from the mandated reporter law if they are informed of abuse under the Catholic seal of confession. Senate Bill 360 (SB 360) would eliminate this exemption. It is set for a hearing on April 2, 2019.

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Call our Los Angeles child sexual abuse lawyer to learn more about your rights

Mandated reporters are required by law to report any known or suspected child abuse. Failure to do so could leave them criminally and civilly liable for your child’s injuries. Taylor & Ring has successfully represented California victims of sexual assault in claims against mandated reporters. Please call 310-776-6390 or fill out our contact form to learn more.

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