COLUMBIA, Mo - UPDATE: According to former prosecutor Bill Tackett, this kind of case is difficult to charge or even convict.
"As a prosecutor, we have to be very careful with these cases, because if they involve parenting, then a jury would not convict," he said.
Tackett gave several examples of cases he worked on involving what he calls "the fine line between parenting and abuse."
In one case, a man hit his child across the mouth after hearing the boy had been disrespectful to his teacher at school. Tackett said a jury acquitted the man after he took the stand to explain that he was parenting the child.
In another, Tackett said a man hit his child in the back of the legs with a hanger, leaving welts. He said the prosecutors office elected not to charge the man because they didn't believe they could convince a jury there had been abuse and not parenting.
"The point was there's not permanent injury, it was in response to something the kid had done and we didn't charge it because we didn't feel a jury would back us on it," said Tackett. "But if it can be categorized as parenting, the statutes keep the state out of that business, even if I think it's too much."
If a parent or adult is hitting the child for no reason and it's not a response to something the child did that they believed required discipline, prosecutors can make a case for that. Tackett said they can also make a case if the adult has past anger management issues, or was drinking at the time.
ABC17 News called Boone County prosecutors to find out if Johnson will be charged for child abuse and to obtain a probable cause statement with more information.
With the basic information police have provided on the case, Tackett said that if it ends up in court, there will probably be an acquittal.
ORIGINAL STORY: A man is facing possible child abuse charges after police say he was seen spanking an 8-year-old.
Police tell ABC 17 News they arrested Anthony Johnson around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. They said they responded to the 3100 block of Parker Street around 6:30 p.m. after a witness reported seeing the alleged abuse happen.
Officers said a witness saw Johnson spank the boy with a belt about four times.
The witness told police Johnson did it because the child hit his sister in the mouth.
Police said they found fresh welt marks and bruise on the child.
Johnson has already bonded out of jail.