Child Abuse Charges Are Taken Very Seriously.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Group

The Court Cannot Assume Wrongful Intent

The Michigan Court of Appeals addressed child abuse charges in People v Derek Adam Henry. The Court found the defendant not guilty of knowingly and intentionally causing a child’s death. The evidence showed that the defendant was a loving and attentive parent. There were frequent trips to pediatricians. The only questionable testimony was that the defendant believed the child to be suffering from an illness but was recovering. There was no evidence to show that the defendant’s decision not to seek medical care was the cause of harm to the child. The prosecution tried to argue that the child’s death proved that the defendant intended to harm the child. The Court determined you cannot assume wrongful intent based on a tragic outcome.

In this case, the government prosecuted parents who had just lost their child for child abuse charges. The government did not present evidence they were terrible parents. This case was a tragic example of overstepping by the prosecutor. This type of overreaction by the Government is why you need an expert defense attorney to help protect you and your rights.

Defending Those Falsely Accused

Not all unsubstantiated reports of child abuse are accurate or truthful. Sometimes, reports are filed in good faith when a daycare accident or a misinterpreted event occurs between an adult and a minor. In other cases, a doctor, a school counselor, or a therapist may make assumptions about an injury and mistakenly believe there was child abuse. The most concerning circumstances are when a parent, usually during a divorce, falsely claims their spouse was abusive or committed a domestic assault to gain an advantage in family court or custody. Our veteran child abuse defense lawyers will investigate where these allegations came from, determine if the allegations were spurious, and build a strong defense against the charges.

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First Steps After Being Accused of Child Abuse

Being accused of child abuse is a profoundly serious and distressing situation. Whether charges have yet to be filed or if you’re already facing legal action, knowing the first steps to take can significantly impact the outcome of your case. The emotional and legal ramifications of such accusations demand immediate and strategic action.

If Charges Haven’t Yet Been Filed

When you become aware of an accusation but before any charges are officially filed, it’s crucial to act proactively. Hiring a lawyer on a precharge basis is one of the most strategic moves you can make. This early intervention allows your attorney to gather evidence, advise you on how to communicate about the case, and potentially engage with law enforcement or child protective services on your behalf. At this stage, the goal is to present your side of the story effectively and to work towards preventing charges from being filed. An experienced precharge criminal defense lawyer, especially one familiar with the nuances of child abuse cases, can navigate the complexities of these allegations and develop a proactive defense strategy.

If Charges Are Already Filed

If charges have already been filed against you, securing legal representation is an urgent priority. An experienced criminal defense attorney will assess the charges, examine the evidence, and advise on the best course of action. Your lawyer will also handle all interactions with the prosecutor and the court, ensuring your rights are protected throughout the legal process. The sooner you have an attorney advocating on your behalf, the better positioned you will be to challenge the prosecution’s case, explore plea options, or prepare for trial if necessary.

General Guidance

  • Remain Silent: Exercise your right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you, so it’s best to wait for legal counsel before making any statements to law enforcement or investigators.
  • Document Everything: Keep a detailed record of all interactions related to the case, including conversations with child protective services, law enforcement, and any witnesses. This information can be invaluable to your defense.
  • Comply with Legal Obligations: While maintaining your right to silence, comply with any legal obligations, such as court appearances. Your attorney will guide you through these processes.

Facing accusations of child abuse can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate this challenging time alone. Michigan’s premier criminal defense law firm, LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., is dedicated to defending the rights of those accused of child abuse. Our experienced team understands the sensitivity of these cases and is committed to providing the aggressive, compassionate defense you need. Whether preemptively managing accusations or vigorously defending against filed charges, our goal is to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

What constitutes child abuse under criminal law in Michigan? In Michigan, child abuse is defined as harm or potential harm to a child’s health or welfare by a parent, guardian, or caregiver. This includes physical harm, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Michigan law categorizes child abuse into four degrees, with the first degree being the most severe, involving intentional harm or harm caused by reckless disregard of obvious risks.

How are different degrees of child abuse categorized and penalized in criminal court?

  • First-Degree Child Abuse: Involves serious physical or mental harm and can result in life imprisonment or any term of years.
  • Second-Degree Child Abuse: Includes reckless acts likely to cause harm or serious physical or mental harm through omission, punishable by up to 10 years in prison for a first offense.
  • Third-Degree Child Abuse: Constitutes knowingly or intentionally causing physical harm, punishable by up to two (2) years in prison.
  • Fourth-Degree Child Abuse: Involves causing physical harm through reckless acts or omission, punishable by up to one year in jail.

Can accusations of child abuse affect parental rights and custody in family court? Yes, in Michigan, allegations of child abuse can significantly impact parental rights and custody arrangements. The court prioritizes the child’s safety and well-being. A parent found to have abused a child may lose custody rights or be limited to supervised visitation, depending on the severity of the abuse and the court’s determination of what is in the child’s best interest.

What defenses are available for someone charged with child abuse? Defenses to child abuse charges in Michigan may include working with a top-tier criminal defense lawyer to prove the accusations are false, demonstrating the injury was accidental and not the result of neglect or intentional harm, showing the actions were part of reasonable parental discipline, or challenging the evidence’s credibility. The specific defense strategy will depend on the case’s details and available evidence.

How can a conviction for child abuse affect my future, including employment and living arrangements? A child abuse charge in Michigan can have profound effects on your future. It may limit employment opportunities, especially in roles involving children, and can lead to the loss of professional licenses. Housing opportunities might also be restricted, as certain communities may not permit individuals with criminal convictions to reside there. Moreover, a conviction can affect personal relationships and social standing and could result in being placed on a child abuse registry, further impacting your rights and opportunities.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

Your Best Defense Against Child Abuse or Neglect Charges

The government takes prosecutions of crimes involving children very seriously. Prosecutors almost blindly charge parents and caretakers with child abuse charges if there is any allegation of wrongdoing towards a child. The government often does not take the time to realize that there are other reasons that an injury, or even death, could occur. Because the government is so aggressive with these cases, you must have the help of an experienced child abuse defense attorney who is not afraid to “go to war” with a prosecutor focused on a conviction. These cases are ugly, and no one wins unless your lawyer is willing to do whatever it takes to get you the best possible outcome.

You must have someone in your corner who can guide, assist, counsel, and advocate zealously for you. The attorneys of LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience successfully representing people facing child abuse and other felony and misdemeanor criminal charges. The firm’s attorneys understand that compassion is also part of the representation expected of them. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has a remarkable record of success in all areas of criminal defense.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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