Child abuse is punishable as a crime. When you are facing allegations of child abuse, or if you think that child abuse may be occuring, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney. Unfortunately, child abuse allegations often occur in family law cases. Even a simple accusation of child abuse can potentially destroy a person’s life. If you have been accused of abusing a child, you may not know which way to turn.
The first step you should take in protecting your rights if you are accused of child abuse is to hire a criminal defense attorney who has experience handling cases like yours. Our team of lawyers at Coolidge Law Firm is seasoned in the ins and outs of child abuse charges.
What is Child Abuse?
Child abuse is generally defined as the physical, mental, and/or sexual abuse of a minor (18 years of age in North Carolina). An abused child is a child whose parent, guardian, or caretaker inflicts serious physical or mental/emotional injury to the child.
The term “maltreatment” is also used to refer to child abuse and includes all types of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence, and other exploitative activities that result in real or potential harm to the child. Maltreatment occurs when the health, survival, development, or dignity of a child is affected within the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust, or power.
A misdemeanor child abuse is defined in N.C. G.S. 14-318.2 as either of these actions done knowingly rather than accidentally:
- Inflicting physical injury, or
- Allowing physical injury to be inflicted, or
- Creating or allowing to be created a substantial risk of physical injury
A felony child abuse is defined in N.C. G.S. 14-318.4 as any parent or any other person providing care to or supervision of a child less than 16 years of age who intentionally inflicts any serious physical injury upon the child.
What are Legal Consequences of Child Abuse?
The court takes reports of child abuse very seriously. If a parent is accused of abusing their child, the judge takes extreme caution to determine whether the allegations are true or false. This is accomplished through an investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services where the accuracy and validity of the charges are determined.
When a person is charged with child abuse and found guilty, he/she is subject to fines, possible jail time, and restrictions of parental or custodial rights.
Based on the severity of the offense and whether it is a repeat offense, fines can range greatly from hundreds of dollars to thousands.
Both the severity of an offense as well as whether it is a repeated offense contribute to the length of a jail sentence. A misdemeanor child abuse is punishable up to a year in jail while a felony child abuse is punishable with sentences that exceed a year, in some cases 5 to 10 years.
Parental Rights Restricted or Terminated
When a parent or guardian is found to be guilty of child abuse or neglect, the court regards them as unfit to care for the child. A parent is deemed unfit when there has been severe and chronic neglect, abuse, abandonment of the child, long-term mental illness or incapacity due to addiction. If a parent is shown by clear evidence to be unfit, the court can order either restrictions or termination of their care of the child.
Why Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?
If you have been accused of child abuse, you should realize that there are serious consequences to a conviction. You may be successful in fighting the charges if you take proper actions. Contacting a criminal defense attorney with experience defending child abuse cases should be the first thing you do. It is critical that you have an attorney to help you during the investigation of the Department of Health and Human Services as directed by the court. Here are some reasons why you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
They Understand the Judicial System in These Types of Cases
An experienced criminal defense attorney understands how the judicial system works. The legal system can be complex and confusing. Partnering with an experienced child abuse attorney is important because they know the intricacies of the court systems and can guide you through the process based on your individual case.
They Have Experience Dealing with Cases Similar to Yours
Not just any attorney, or any criminal defense attorney, may be able to give you the advocacy you need in a child abuse charge. You need a lawyer who has experience in defending cases that are similar to yours. This knowledge of the specific aspects of the law that can protect you is immeasurable in providing you with the best legal defense possible.
They Can Guide you Through the Steps you Need to Take
A defense attorney will guide you through the process of gathering relevant evidence. An experienced attorney is able to help you obtain statements from family members, co-workers, friends, and neighbors who are willing to testify as to your character and/or parenting abilities. After collecting the information, your attorney is able to review the facts of your case and help you create a plan of action.
Contact a Raleigh Child Abuse Attorney Today
If you have been charged with child abuse, contact us at Coolidge Law Firm before you do anything. Our criminal defense attorneys are experienced in defending individuals who are charged with child abuse. They can guide you through the process and be the advocates you need. We serve Wake County including Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Garner, Durham, and all surrounding areas. Call us today at (919) 239-8448 or complete the contact form below.