It is not entirely unusual or uncommon for tempers to rise in intense situations like divorce or child custody disputes. Sometimes, one parent would throw around the allegations of child abuse to gain leverage.
Whether legitimate or not, child abuse allegations and accusations occur daily in Florida. Being accused of abusing and harming a child is enough to ruin lives and tear apart families.
If you’ve been accused of child abuse, hiring and working with a criminal defense attorney would be in your best interest. They will not only help you win or dismiss your case, but they can also protect your rights against child abuse allegations.
What Qualifies as Child Abuse in Florida?
Child abuse is described as the harm inflicted by a parent or caregiver through action or the failure to act. It is committing intentional mental or physical injury to a minor or child. In this context, even child neglect qualifies as abuse as it involves failing or omitting to provide a child with care, supervision, or services.
Child abuse is a form of domestic violence. According to the state’s statute §827.03, an individual can face child abuse charges if they encourage another person to commit physical or mental harm or injury to a minor.
What Happens in the Event of Child Abuse Allegations?
Child abuse allegations usually trigger an investigation by the Child Protection Services (CPS) agency. This may occur when one parent accuses the other of harming their child or if a mandated reporter, like a teacher, child care provider, doctor, or mental health professional, reports suspected child abuse.
During the investigation, a caseworker from CPS will assess whether immediate action is needed to protect the child. Usually, it includes a forensic interview with the child involved.
If CPS finds reasonable grounds to believe the allegations, they may remove the child from home. CPS may also work with the police to investigate the situation further, and the district attorney’s office may decide whether to press criminal charges.
If the accused is a parent or guardian, they will be sent to family court. Even if the claims are false, the judge may temporarily suspend the child custody during the investigation to keep the child from harm. You may still regain parenting privileges if you prove the allegations are false.
That, however, is a challenging task to accomplish yourself. Hiring a defense lawyer to help you with the process is ideal.
How Can an Attorney Protect Your Rights When Faced With a Child Abuse Allegation?
It is important that you do not discuss child abuse allegations with anyone, including the CPS and law enforcement. Instead, consult with an attorney. Legal counsel not only ensures you have better chances in court, but you can also be certain that your rights are protected. A lawyer does this as follows:
1. Fight For a Fair Trial
One of the main ways to defend clients’ rights is by ensuring a fair trial. Often, proceedings of criminal cases and other affairs under the criminal justice system can be hectic. Every aspect of your case must be investigated and considered with extreme detail and unbiased understanding.
A lawyer can help ensure you receive a fair trial if the allegations become actual charges.
2. Ensuring You Remain Innocent Until Proven Guilty
A defense lawyer ensures that their clients remain innocent until proven guilty, especially in the minds of the jurors and judge. Despite the amount of evidence in a case before trial, the legal system declares that all defendants are innocent until the prosecution can deem them guilty without reasonable doubt.
3. Examines the Evidence
An experienced lawyer carefully reviews all evidence related to a case, though they don’t stop there. Usually, they conduct their own careful and meticulous investigation to ensure that no rock is left unturned. In doing so, they can identify the problems with the case and establish a good defense strategy.
4. Builds a Formidable Defense for Your Case
With the evidence and their investigation, the lawyer can build a solid defense strategy that can help win the case. In a child abuse allegation, here are a few common defenses that can prove that the defendant did not harm the child:
The most common defense against child abuse allegations is claiming that these allegations are false and untrue. False accusations are relatively common, as many individuals who accuse a parent of abuse don’t know what’s happening in the child’s life.
Also, while difficult to prove, one of the best strategies to beat child abuse allegations is to counterattack and show proof that the accuser is lying or wrong.
Parent’s Right to Discipline
Parents can discipline their child in whatever manner they want as long as it’s reasonable and does not inflict any bodily harm to the child. Often, people have differing views when it comes to appropriate discipline.
Depending on the circumstances, a parent may claim parental privileges and be entitled to discipline their child. However, note that this only works if they have minor injuries, like light bruising.
Injury Caused By Something Other Than Child Abuse
A defendant may defend by stating that the injury was caused by something else, like an accident. Most states don’t necessarily punish accidents unless caused by the parent’s recklessness or gross carelessness.
Sometimes, parents are also falsely accused of abuse based on non-accidental situations, like when a child gets into a fight with another or when they have an existing medical condition. This defense mostly focuses on causation and whether the accused was responsible for the injury.
5. Stands and Protect You During Trial
A lawyer also protects clients’ rights by fighting for them during the trial. They are skilled litigators that are prepared to stand by their clients. In a child abuse case, the lawyer should understand the causes of the injuries and be ready to challenge the medical experts and present their own.
Seek Legal Help to Counter Child Abuse Allegations
Defending yourself against child abuse can be immensely difficult. Combine that with the media’s negative depiction of child abuse offenders, and it’s practically impossible to overcome the harsh realities of child abuse allegations. Once accused, it can be something that will follow you throughout your life.
If you’re facing child abuse allegations, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately at Hanlon Law Bradenton. Our team can assist you during the entire process and help build a solid defense to achieve a favorable outcome. Moreover, you can protect your rights, your family, and your freedom with the help of a lawyer.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation.
1111 3rd Ave W Ste 310
Bradenton, FL 34205