Conroe, TX- Running back Adrian Peterson, who was suspended from the Minnesota Vikings last month, appeared in court Wednesday where he entered a plea of not guilty according to reports.
Peterson was indicted last month after he was accused of using a switch to spank his four year-old son so severely that he caused the young boy to suffer welts and bruises. The pro athlete said he was just using corporal punishment to discipline his child much like his parents did when he was a child and denied intentionally harming his son.
Shortly after the allegations surfaced Peterson was suspended from the Minnesota Vikings until the case against him is resolved. The Minnesota Star Tribune said no trial date was set Wednesday despite Peterson’s attorney’s request for a speedy trial, but the paper did report that a Dec. 1st trial date is likely.
Prosecutors charged Peterson with negligent child abuse, and if convicted he faces up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. He was charged as a first offender so that will give him a greater chance of avoiding a jail sentence.
His career is also at stake if prosecutors secure a conviction. It is likely, especially in the face of the recent domestic violence controversy, that Peterson could be suspended from the Vikings and barred from the NFL for a period of time.
Under Texas law, corporal punishment is legal—as it is in all fifty states- and acceptable if a parent or guardian “reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline the child or to safeguard or promote his welfare,” according to USA Today. The prosecution must prove that the force used was excessive and intended to harm a child, but what constitutes as excessive is not legally defined by the state and is determined by a community.
The Texas Attorney General’s office told USA Today, corporal punishment is generally not considered abusive if belts or brushes are used and no bruises, cuts or other marks are visible.
When asked how many cases of child abuse charges are the result of corporal punishment, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said they didn’t track those statistics.
Attitudes have changed dramatically over the past two decades, and while there are parents who utilize corporal punishment to discipline their children, there are many others who view it as abuse. Child abuse charges should be viewed with seriousness and abusers need to be stopped and held accountable for their actions. But there are instances in which people are wrongfully accused or hit with grossly exaggerated charges. It’s critical when facing child abuse charges that the accused retains and criminal defense attorney to begin working on their case as soon as possible.
Having an accomplished criminal defense attorney is key to the accused’s defense throughout all stages of criminal case, from entering a plea to picking jurors, to negotiating for a plea bargain or taking a case trial. Our talented and skilled defense attorneys will do whatever is necessary to assure a positive outcome for your case.