Child abuse is one of the most serious criminal offenses one can face. Even if you’re falsely accused of child abuse, the allegations can ruin your life in more ways than one. Here are some fast facts about child abuse and what to do if you’re accused of it.
What is child abuse?
Child abuse is any direct or indirect action that causes physical and/or emotional harm to a child.
Per federal law, child abuse means: “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation,” or “An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”
Types of child abuse
Child abuse can be physical, sexual, neglectful or psychological in nature.
Physical abuse means causing any intentional injury to a child. Hitting, burning, whipping and shoving are a few types of physical abuse.
Sexual abuse entails an adult or an older child engaging in sexual behavior with a child. Sexual abuse may be direct (i.e. molestation, rape, prostitution) or indirect in nature (i.e. forcing a child to view a sex act).
Emotional or psychological manipulation or harm of a child is abuse. Examples include rejecting, ignoring, humiliating, isolating or threatening a child.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that child neglect is not the same thing as child abuse, but this is absolutely false.
Failing to properly care for a child physically or emotionally is categorized as neglect, which falls under the category of abuse. Neglect may entail failing to provide basic needs like food, clothing and hygiene to a child, or it may consist of failing to provide proper love and support to a child.
Child abuse penalties
In most states, child abuse is categorized as a felony. While every state has its own set of laws about child abuse, here are some penalties you could face:
- Incarceration – Jail and prison time are very common in child abuse cases.
- Fines – Fine amounts vary from state to state but typically amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars.
- Restriction or loss of parental rights – You may lose your ability to return to your house or see your family.
- Probation– You will have to do probation in almost every child abuse case. This can include therapy, parenting classes, anger management, monitored sobriety, etc.
False child abuse allegations
Child abuse is a terrible crime, and those who deliberately abuse their children should rightfully face some sort of punishment.
Unfortunately, some individuals are falsely accused of child abuse. Whether it’s a messy divorce or a simple misunderstanding, being wrongly accused of child abuse can have debilitating effects on you for the rest of your life.
What to do if you face child abuse charges or allegations
A child abuse accusation is not something that should be taken lightly. Child abuse is a felony and a very serious offense that can result in prison time.
If you are accused of child abuse, it’s imperative that you seek professional legal counsel immediately from a criminal defense lawyer. You will be treated as guilty until proven innocent, so it’s crucial to consult with an attorney to mitigate the charges brought against you.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind if you’re accused of child abuse:
- Do not talk to law enforcement without a lawyer present
- Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who specializes in child abuse
- Gain all the support you can from family, friends and loved ones
Are you facing child abuse allegations? Contact Denver child abuse lawyer M. Colin Bresee for your consultation.