Being accused of child abuse is serious. A conviction could affect your ability to get a job, keep your freedom, or continue to raise your children.
Every state has unique laws that are designed to protect children from abuse. The language within these laws may vary, but they all ban any type of cruelty against a child. Child abuse charges can be based on suspicion of physical attacks, mental abuse, and neglect.
You will need the help of a criminal defense attorney if you hope to present a viable defense against your child abuse charges in court.
1. False Allegations
Child abuse allegations can turn a person's world upside down. People within your life may use a child abuse allegation as a weapon to try and manipulate your behavior. If this is the case, your criminal defense attorney will likely pursue a false allegations defense.
You should be prepared to submit undeniable proof that the person who initially reported you to the police was lying if you want a judge to believe you have been falsely accused.
False allegations can be common in custody battles. One parent might accuse the other of child abuse in an attempt to win custody.
Your attorney will be able to evaluate your case and determine the best way to present a false allegations defense on your behalf.
2. Accidental Injuries
Children often sustain injuries that are in no way related to abuse. A child could fall from a tree and break an arm, crash his or her bike and require stitches, or bump into furniture and develop bruises.
No parent should be charged with child abuse for injuries their child genuinely sustained in an accidental manner. A good criminal defense attorney will be able to help you prove that you did not cause your child's injuries.
An accidental injury defense could require the help of an expert medical witness to present evidence proving your actions were not responsible for causing your child's injury. You may also be required to submit your child's healthcare records into evidence when pursuing an accidental injuries defense.
3. Right to Discipline
All children need structure and discipline as they learn to navigate the world around them. The law recognizes that parents have a right to discipline their children, but these disciplinary measures must be reasonable and not cause lasting harm to the child.
Unfortunately, opinions on the best approach to discipline vary widely from one set of parents to the next. A parent who chooses to spank their child as a form of punishment could be reported for child abuse by parents who believe that spanking is cruel.
Your criminal defense attorney will need to provide evidence that your disciplinary actions were appropriate to the sex, age, and physical and mental state of the child being disciplined. The nature of the child's conduct that sparked the disciplinary actions will also be evaluated in court.
Reasonable discipline is something parents have a right to engage in, and your attorney can help you use this right to discipline as an effective defense against child abuse charges.
4. Religious Beliefs
One of the most difficult defense strategies when faced with child abuse charges is the use of your religious beliefs. Many religious practices that seem perfectly normal to one family may be perceived as child abuse by other families.
One example of a religious belief that could result in child abuse charges is abstaining from eating food during the day by Muslims during Ramadan.
Some people may view withholding food from a child as abuse, but your attorney can help you explain to the court the meaning behind your actions to prove you aren't engaging in abuse.