How can your lawyer defend you against charges of child abuse?
As individuals who have been wrongly accused of child abuse, particularly child sexual abuse, know all too well, innocence can be very difficult to prove. Just as we know that child abuse is much more common that we used to believe, we should be aware that false accusations of child abuse are not infrequent. Such false charges are especially common in highly dysfunctional families and in families going through unusually acrimonious divorces. If you find yourself accused of, or charged with, child abuse, whether physical, emotional, or sexual, it is essential that you engage the services of a skilled criminal defense attorney.
Some Reasons Protecting Yourself from Charges of Child Abuse Are Especially Hard
There are a few reasons that child abuse charges are difficult to defend against:
- The harsh and horrible reality of the abuse itself
- The tendency of the general population to believe that children are innocent and guileless
- The difficulty most people have that adults, even very hostile adults, would manipulate children to accuse innocent adults of such behavior
Your best chance of being vindicated of child abuse is having a defense attorney with a sturdy defense strategy. While it is well-known that children are often abused by those close to them, an adult in such a position of closeness is less likely to have a credible defense, such as an alibi, since he or she has a history of private contact with the child.
Defenses against False Allegations of Child Abuse
There are several potentially effective methods of protecting yourself from false allegations of child abuse. Among them are the following:
1. Simple denial
You and your lawyer should be vigorous and aggressive in denying the charges, wherever possible showing evidence that the child in question has lied before or has a history of erroneously accusing someone of criminal wrongdoing.
2. Prove that injury resulted from an accidental occurrence involving the adult
Many states in the U.S. have laws that keep an individual from being punished for behavior was accidental, such as unwittingly slamming the car door on a child’s hand. Even though the adult may not have intended to cause any distress, such accidents will likely be investigated (at least cursorily), especially if they happen repeatedly to the same child or to children in the same family. Some cases may have much more serious legal repercussions since there are existing laws protecting children from certain extreme negligence. An example of the latter would be leaving a child unattended in a car.
3. Proving that a supposed injury was a result of a pre-existing medical condition
It may be proven, for example, that the child in question has a disorder that causes excessive bruising or brittle bones. In such cases, it may be determined that the child’s injury is not due to abuse but to his or her body’s overreaction to mild contact.
4. Parental Discipline
Different cultures have different customs and regulations regarding parental discipline or discipline by an adult who is in loco parentis, such as a teacher or babysitter. Sometimes defense attorneys will argue that the punishment administered was typical of that administered to other children in the community. Corporal punishment, for example, is still legal in many states in this country. Nonetheless, typically any discipline that causes more than slight bruising may be considered excessive and, therefore, illegal.
5. Religious Exemptions
While most people may consider letting a child suffer or die from a treatable illness as abuse, there are religions that forbid medical care. Controversial though such behavior is, this religious exemption may be used as a defense in most states in this country. In extreme cases, however, the parents are often prosecuted and may be incarcerated.
Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy
A rare psychiatric disorder, known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) is, albeit uncommonly, used in cases of child abuse in which a parent or caregiver secretly causes and/or exacerbates a child’s illness in order to obtain sympathy for himself or herself.
If you have been accused of, or arrested for, abusing a child, it is crucial that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to give you a vigorous defense. If you are seeking assistance in the Capital Region of New York State, call Ianniello Anderson, P.C. where we are dedicated to defending clients in the Albany, Clifton Park, Glens Falls, Saratoga Springs, Troy, and the entire Northeastern NY areas at (518) 350.7755.