Sunday, December 8, 2013

Newby v. United States case brief

Newby v. United States case brief summary
797 A.2d 1233 (2002)

Defendant was convicted in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia of simple assault for using excessive force to discipline her child. She appealed.

Defendant hit and kicked her child, saying she was trying to discipline the child.


  • The appellate court held her claims that parent-child assaults could only be prosecuted under the cruelty to children statute, D.C. Code Ann. § 22-1101 (2001), or that if the simple assault statute, D.C. Code Ann. § 22-404(a) (2001), applied, malice had to be proved to overcome her parental discipline defense, were preserved for review by her motion for acquittal under D.C. Super. Ct. R. Crim. P. 29. D.C. Code Ann. § 22-404(a) (2001) made no parental discipline exceptions, but defendant could assert the parental discipline privilege as a defense under that statute. 
  • The government could elect to prosecute her under either § 22-404(a) or D.C. Code Ann. § 22-1101 (2001). 
  • The government did not have to prove her malice to overcome her parental discipline defense. 
  • Her constitutionally protected parental prerogatives were sufficiently protected by requiring the government to overcome the parental discipline defense beyond a reasonable doubt, by proving either that the child's punishment was unreasonable or that it was not genuinely disciplinary.
Defendant's conviction was affirmed.

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