(a) When any child is alleged to be a dependent and neglected child, the parent, guardian or other person who by any willful act causes, contributes to or encourages such dependency and neglect commits a Class A misdemeanor, triable in the circuit or criminal court.
(b) In such a case when the defendant pleads not guilty, the juvenile court judge has the power to bind the defendant over to the grand jury as in cases of misdemeanors under the criminal laws of this state. In such case, when the defendant pleads not guilty, the juvenile court judge has the power to bind the defendant over to the grand jury or to proceed to hear the case on its merits without the intervention of a jury if the defendant requests the hearing in juvenile court and expressly waives in writing an indictment, presentment, grand jury investigation and jury trial. In the event the defendant enters a plea of guilty, the juvenile court judge has the same power as the circuit or criminal court in making final disposition of the case.
(c) Reliance by a parent, guardian or custodian upon remedial treatment, other than medical or surgical treatment for a child, when such treatment is legally recognized or legally permitted under the laws of this state, shall not subject such parent, guardian or custodian to any of the penalties hereunder.
(d) The provisions of subsection (a) shall not be construed to impose criminal liability upon a mother based solely upon her act of voluntarily delivering a newborn infant to a facility pursuant to § 68-11-255.
Acts 1970, ch. 600, § 55; 1971, ch. 189, § 6; 1980, ch. 796, § 4; T.C.A., § 37-255; Acts 1989, ch. 591, § 111; 2001, ch. 388, § 3.