Domestic authority is a defense allowing a parent (or other caregiver) to use reasonable (non-deadly) force on a child (or other charge) when it is reasonably necessary for the child's welfare. “Reasonableness” is determined in light of the child's age, sex, health, and particular misconduct based on the totality of the circumstances.
This defense is generally raised when a parent has been charged with assault and/or battery or child abuse as a result of disciplining his/her child. If the punishment was malicious or inflicted on the child for a reason other than discipline, this defense will not apply. The domestic authority defense is also referred to as the “Parental Corporal Punishment Defense.”