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NY Penal Law § 120.02: Reckless assault of a child

The most heinous crimes that you can be charged with are crimes where children are the victims. The injuries that a child can suffer as a result of an assault can be much more severe than if the victim was an adult. Such injuries can cause permanent damage, leaving the child disabled for life. Reckless assault of a child is a specific type of assault against a child that results in brain damage. Under New York Penal Code § 120.02, you could be prosecuted for reckless assault of a child if you are at least 18 years and you assault a child who is under 5 years old by shaking, slamming or throwing the child. In addition, as a result of the assault the child suffers a serious brain injury. The type of brain injury that is required for you to face this charge includes:

  • Extreme rotational cranial acceleration and deceleration
  • Subdural hemorrhaging
  • Intracranial hemorrhaging
  • Retinal hemorrhaging
  • Other serious brain injury that is so severe that the child might die or suffer a protracted physical impairment

The types of injuries that the child victim suffers are collectively commonly referred to as shaken baby syndrome and are linked to child abuse. However, to sustain such injuries a child does not have to be shaken, but could be thrown or slammed


A man admittedly shook his girlfriend's 11-month old daughter because she would not stop crying. The child was found unresponsive, clenching her fists in pain, bruised, unable to hold her head up and her eyes were rolled back in her head. Doctors concluded that she suffered a traumatic brain injury. This man could be prosecuted for reckless assault of a child because he shook the child and the child suffered one of the specific types of injuries required by New York Penal Code § 120.02.

Related Offenses
  1. Reckless assault of a child by a child day care provider: New York Penal Code § 120.01
  2. Aggravated Assault Upon a Person Less Than Eleven: New York Penal Code § 120.12
  3. Luring a child: New York Penal Code § 120.70

In order to prove that you committed reckless assault against a child, the child must suffer a very specific type of serious physical injury. If the injury is less than serious or if the injury is a type that is not specified in the statute, then the prosecutor will not be able to prove a case of reckless assault against a child. The prosecutor must rely heavily on medical evidence to prove the type and extent of injuries. Likewise, you may also need to rely heavily on medical evidence to show that the case does not meet the statutory requirements.


Reckless assault of a child is a Class D felony. The maximum possible sentence is 7 years in prison. Because reckless assault of a child is also classified as a violent felony, the judge is required to impose a minimum sentence of 2 years in prison. The actual length of your prison sentence will depend on factors such as your prior criminal record.

New York Penal Code § 120.02: Reckless assault of a child
  1. A person is guilty of reckless assault of a child when, being eighteen years of age or more, such person recklessly causes serious physical injury to the brain of a child less than five years old by shaking the child, or by slamming or throwing the child so as to impact the child's head on a hard surface or object.
  2. For purposes of subdivision one of this section, the following shall constitute "serious physical injury": a. "serious physical injury" as defined in subdivision ten of § 10.00 of this chapter; or b. extreme rotational cranial acceleration and deceleration and one or more of the following: (i) subdural hemorrhaging; (ii) intracranial hemorrhaging; or (iii) retinal hemorrhaging.
New York Reckless Assault of a Child Lawyer

Being arrested for reckless assault of a child is serious. If you are convicted, many aspects of your life may change forever. However, there may be defenses to a charge of reckless assault to a child that only an experienced practitioner will understand. The staff at Stephen Bilkis and Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with reckless assault of a child as well as other assault crimes, menacing, reckless endangerment, stalking, rape, and child endangerment. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of assault in the following locations:

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