Failure to Provide Care/Child Neglect - California Penal Code Section 270

Actual Case

Sam was ordered by the family law court to pay child support of $2,000 a month to Lisa, the custodial parent of the two children.  At the time of the order, Sam a contractor, had steady work and a steady source of income.  Sam became injured, lost his job, and was unable to keep up the support payments.  Lisa had to go on government assistance to provide for the children.  The District Attorney made efforts to collect from Sam, but when he was unable to pay finally filed charges against him.  At the time that Sam saw me he had just started back to work.  I was able to negotiated a deal in which Sam paid a reduced amount for back child support and once that sum was paid the District Attorney dismissed the charges.


P.C. 270, or Failure to Provide Care/Child Neglect is the failure to provide necessary material care for the defendant's minor child.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of Failure to Provide Care/Child Neglect under P.C. 270, the prosecution must prove the following facts or elements:

  • The defendant was the parent of a child; and
  • the child was a minor;
  • The defendant failed to provide necessities for the child; and
  • the failure was willful and without lawful excuse.

Necessities are defined as food, clothing, shelter and medical care.


Frank has left Terry and their 2 children, ages 11 and 6. He makes little effort to support the kids, sending checks for less than necessary and less than he can afford, when he bothers to send them at all. He claims that the payments on his new Corvette make it impossible to send more. Frank can be charged because he chose to buy an extravagant car rather than support his children.

Nick and Dianne ran a business that failed, then they lost their house. They are living in their car with their child while they look for work and a new home. Someone who sees a child living in a car reports them to the police. They can't be convicted under P.C 270 since they don't have money and are trying to find work and adequate shelter.


For a first offense, P.C. 270 FAILURE TO PROVIDE CARE/CHILD NEGLECT is a wobbler, with first offenses typically charged as a misdemeanor and subsequent offenses potentially charged as a felony.

A misdemeanor can result in the following penalties:

  • 3 years Summary probation;
  • Up to one year in county jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to two thousand dollars ($2,000.)

A felony can result in the following penalties:

  • 5 years Formal probation;
  • one year and one day in state prison; and/or
  • A fine of up to two thousand dollars ($2,000.)


The defendant did not act willfully:

If the defendant is a non-custodial parent and is unaware of the child or children lacking for proper care and support due to lack of communication from the custodial parent, the defendant has a defense against this charge.

Lack of financial means to provide for the child:

When a parent is in serious economic hardship and thus unable to provide what is considered by society to be basic minimal support for the child, the parent can't be criminally charged for the inability.


I have been practicing criminal defense for over 35 years. I have represented people on hundreds of child neglect cases and have a proven record of success. I will begin by combing the police reports for any helpful information and inconsistencies and then will meet with you to discuss your side of the story and to determine possible defenses. I employ a team of investigators, legal researchers, and expert witnesses that will help present the strongest possible case.  Often, in their attempt to find someone responsible for a crime the police will arrest the wrong person. Sometimes the police will take an innocent situation and charge someone with a crime. I served for over sixteen years as a Judicial Officer of the Sacramento Superior Court and have established key relationships that can be used to greatly benefit my clients.  I will aggressively fight for you to get you the best possible result on your assault case including taking the case to trial if needed. Call Foos Gavin Law Firm at (916) 779-3500 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a no-cost initial consultation."