Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the United States has placed millions of its citizens on lockdown to protect them from the biological hazard. With the shelter-in-place directive in place, there has been a higher number of suspected cases of domestic violence and child abuse. However, all reported cases of abuse are substantiated by evidence. In fact, a person may find himself becoming a victim of false allegations and facing criminal liability. In such a case, taking counter-action is needed to drop the charges.
If you have been wrongfully accused of a crime you did not commit, this guide will help you address unfounded child abuse reporting. It would be valuable to familiarize yourself with the legal definition of child abuse, practice recognizing signs of maltreatment which citizens report, and find evidence against the type of abuse you are charged with.
Information about Child Abuse Allegations
A case for child abuse and neglect may be reported if someone witnesses or suspects an abuser—usually a parent, caregiver, custodian, or a guardian—intentionally performing physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual harm, maltreatment, assault, neglects a child, or inflicts non-accidental and non-medical physical injuries on children, exploits them, and in extreme cases, forces them to child labor. Those who are accused of any of these will face criminal charges.
Reported instances of abused children may take on any of the following forms:
- Physical abuse:injuries that are non-accidental in nature such as having cuts, burns and bruises, or suffering from broken bones or fractures
- Emotional abuse:performing or omitting acts that lead to a child having depression, aggressive behavior, anxiety or withdrawal as diagnosed by a doctor
- Sexual abuse:performing acts on young children that are sexual in nature such as molesting, or exploiting for pornography and prostitution
- Neglect and Abandonment: leaving minors alone in the house, withholding basic needs, having children stay in a place that is hazardous to their health, lack of supervision, medical neglect
- Exploitation: using children to advance personal interest or material gain such as in human trafficking
Possible Sources of False Child Abuse Accusation
If you are wrongfully charged as an offender, you may wonder who reported the abuse. There are many possible sources of allegations because any citizen who suspects a child being abused by parents or caregivers may report his suspicions to local child protective services (CPS), abuse hotlines, or the Department of Child Safety (DCS). In fact, in Arizona, the law requires specific categories of citizens to report suspected child abuse cases in a process called mandated reporting. Reporters may include physicians, psychologists, and other medical health professionals; peace officers and religious practitioners, parents or guardians, and school staff.
Investigations of Child Abuse Reports
Understanding the process of reporting suspected abuse may help you build your counter-claim and defense strategy. Once suspected offenders are reported to the CPS or DCS, a worker will review the merits of the case by talking to the child, the suspected perpetrator, family members, and other people who may have seen signs of abuse, so as to determine if an investigation is needed.
If the worker finds no evidence of abuse in your case, it usually ends here and no court litigation will occur. If on the other hand, the report was substantiated, you may need to seek help from a credible legal defense attorney. Take note that the person who accused you of abusing a minor shall be immune from any criminal and civil liability unless it was proven in court that he/she is the offender.
Facing False Accusations of Child Maltreatment
Since some people may find themselves being victims of false allegations and facing criminal charges, seeking legal counsel is needed to drop the charges. As soon as you receive a child abuse complaint, contact an experienced attorney. It may also be helpful to get in touch with another person who may testify in court to prove that you are falsely accused of abuse. Remember that you are deemed innocent unless otherwise proven in court.
You may be wondering what happens to the accuser once you prove that you did not commit the charged abuse. Under the abuse law, it is considered a crime to knowingly provide a false allegation of child abuse, as well as to force another person to make the wrongful accusation. Moreover, a person who intentionally gives false allegations of child neglect or victimization shall face criminal liability.
If you are currently facing false charges of child abuse, neglect, exploitation, or abandonment, you may seek legal help from our criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Howard A. Snader, LLC. Our experienced lawyers will carefully review your case in Arizona and devise a plan of action to protect yourself from criminal charges. Contact our law office here to schedule your free initial consultation.