Children are vulnerable members of society who depend on adults to care for them. People are generally allowed to parent in whatever style they choose but, when an adult who is supposed to care for them hurts them, the law gets involved.
Child abuse charges carry significant penalties and the charges can also have damaging effects on your reputation. A skilled domestic violence attorney can look at the existing facts of your case, and build a solid defense. If you have been charged with child abuse, get in touch with a Ft. Lauderdale child abuse lawyer who can fight for you.
What Constitutes Child Abuse
In Fort Lauderdale, child abuse is governed by four statutes and is defined as any willful act or threatened act that results in physical, mental, or sexual injury or harm that causes or is likely to cause a child’s physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. Abuse of a child can include acts, omissions, or corporal discipline of a child by a parent or a legal custodian for disciplinary purposes that does not in and of itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to a child.
Child neglect occurs when a child is deprived of or is allowed to be deprived of necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment under Fort Lauderdale law. The child is permitted to live in an environment where deprivation or the environment causes the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired.
What Happens After Child Abuse is Reported
After an instance of child abuse is reported, two different state agencies can get involved. The Department of Children and Families and Child Protective Services can investigate any complaint they receive. Often, there are complaints called into the Florida Abuse Hotline which anyone can use to report suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
These cases are referred to the Department of Children and Families. When there is any injury involved, local law enforcement is assigned to the case to do a criminal investigation as well. Depending on the nature and extent of the reports, there could be an investigation by the Department of Children and Families and criminal investigation conducted by a local law enforcement agency.
Potential Short-Term Criminal Consequences
When law enforcement establishes probable cause, the criminal consequences the individual faces are arrest for child abuse or aggravated child abuse. Child abuse is the intentional infliction of physical or mental injury upon a child or an intentional act that can reasonably be expected to result in a physical or mental injury on a child. Ft. Lauderdale child abuse lawyer.
Aggravated child abuse means aggravated battery on a child, torturing, malicious punishment, and willful or unlawful caging of a child. When law enforcement establishes probable cause for any of those acts, they could subject an individual to an arrest for child abuse.
Long-Term Consequences Associated With Convictions
The stigma associated with a child abuse conviction is the main long-term consequence. If somebody is found guilty or sentenced for this kind of charge, there are lengthy periods of incarceration, probation, or supervision. There are also issues of child custody and child visitation. The stigma extends to the damage to an individual’s reputation and potential loss of parental rights.
Parental rights may be affected resulting in issues of supervised visitation of the child. The long-term consequences of child abuse cases include employment issues, immigration issues, and the general issues an individual has with any criminal case. Child abuse cases can affect a parent’s rights and ability to have contact or visitation with the child in a domestic type of situation.
How Criminal and Civil Cases Can Impact Each Other
Criminal cases involving child abuse can affect child custody and child visitation. The standard of proof in a criminal case is higher than a civil case. In a civil case involving child custody where the court learns of criminal allegations or criminal convictions, those charges can be used in a civil case as evidence of proof that there are parenting issues. They could affect parental rights and/or child visitations.
There should not be any effect of a civil case involving child abuse in a criminal case because of the standard of proof much lower in a civil case. However, an individual should know that in a civil case, anything the individual testifies can be used against them in a criminal case. Unfortunately, when there are criminal allegations pending and a civil case is ongoing, some civil cases are not suspended or stayed. An individual involved in a civil case who has criminal allegations ongoing must be careful as to how they testify and what they say because their testimony in the civil case can be used against them in a criminal case involving child abuse.
Reaching Out to a Lawyer
Child abuse allegations are taken seriously by law enforcement and the state. They are vigorously investigated, so the sooner a Ft. Lauderdale child abuse lawyer is involved, the better. An attorney can intervene in the investigation and steer it in a different direction that avoids an arrest or charges. An accomplished attorney can help secure a reasonable bond and release and build a defense against the child abuse allegations or complaints. The defense can also try to protect you from serving lengthy jail sentences and can attempt to mitigate charges and penalties you face.