Facing Charges for Failure to Report Child Abuse in Michigan.
Child abuse claims are taken very seriously in Michigan. If you are accused of failing to report child abuse or neglect, you’ll need to secure the services of an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.
Michigan Child Protection Law Governing Failure to Report Child Abuse.
Michigan law requires all persons required by the Child Protection Act to report an instance of suspected child abuse or neglect. A required person who fails to do so may be civilly liable for the damages proximately caused by the failure. Failure to Report Child Abuse is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500, or both.
Failure to Report Child Abuse – Who is Required to Report?
Michigan’s Child Protection Law designates mandatory reporters who must report any reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect. If given any reason to believe a child may be experiencing child abuse or neglect, a mandatory reporter is required by law to immediately make a report to Children’s Protective Services (CPS) at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The provider can make the report by phone immediately; however, the law requires a written report within 72 hours.
Mandatory Reporters in Michigan include:
- Physician’s assistants
- Psychologists and mental health therapists
- Physical and occupational therapist
- Licensed emergency medical care providers
- Athletic trainers
- Social workers
- Dentists and dental hygienists
- School counselors and administrators
- Law enforcement officers
- Members of the clergy
- Audiologists, and more.
What Happens if you Fail to Report Child Abuse?
Mandatory reporters that fail to report an instance of reasonably suspected child abuse or neglect could be criminally and civilly liable. In some cases, you could also potentially lose your Michigan professional license. Failure to Report Child Abuse is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.
False Accusations of Failure to Report Child Abuse or Neglect
Law enforcement officers look for people to blame when they discover child abuse or neglect. In many cases, evidence of abuse or neglect was unclear or ambiguous. Law enforcement officers, CPS, DHHS, and prosecutors examine these cases with the benefit of hindsight and, generally, evidence that was unavailable or unknown at the time of contact with the child. The Failure to Report Incident of Child Abuse law was not intended to force those working with children to engage in broad speculation or conjecture. If abuse or neglect was not genuinely suspected, an accused person is innocent and should fight for the dismissal of charges.
Suppose you’ve been contacted by a detective or law enforcement agent who is asking about why a report was not made regarding possible signs of abuse or neglect. In that case, it is essential that you stop talking and respectfully decline to answer any further questions. False Report of Child Abuse is a crime in Michigan. Officers are experts at getting people to talk and incriminate themselves. They will use tactics such as pretending to be on the “same team” or shaming (“if you have nothing to hide, why not talk to us?”). Do not fall for it! If the police or an investigator has approached you for information or questioning, contact us immediately for help and protection.
How to Report Suspected Abuse or Neglect
Mandated reporters must immediately report any suspected child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services by telephone or through the online reporting system. The reporting person must file a written report (DHS-3200) within 72 hours (unless the immediate report was done through the online reporting system). The report must include as much detail as possible, including any suspected perpetrators.
Under the Child Protection Law, the identity of a reporting person is confidential. A person who reports something in good faith is shielded from civil and criminal liability and cannot be punished for doing so or for helping the CPS with an investigation.
Do I Need an Attorney to Defend Failure to Report Charges?
Since there is so much at stake in cases involving children under 18, there are severe punishments for those who fail to report abuse or neglect. Child abuse and neglect charges are complicated and best handled by the experienced, effective team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. When you work with our team, you can be confident that your case will receive our complete focus, expertise, and attention. You deserve the best possible defense, and we are not afraid to win!
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.