Several states in the U.S.A. have laws in place that aim to hold child predators legally accountable for their actions. These laws aim at parents, guardians, caretakers, and anyone responsible for a child's well-being.
Under these laws, a "child abuser" is categorized as anyone who has committed or may have committed sexual or physical abuse against a child. It also includes the parent or guardian of any child's children.
Child abuse is not limited to physical harm. Most child abuse statutes also include
- emotional harm;
- sexual abuse or exploitation; and,
- acts or failures to act that result in imminent risk of danger to the child.
Allegations of child abuse can result in criminal prosecution or the initiation of a child neglect case in civil court.
When you have criminal allegations, charges, or convictions in New Jersey, your future and right to freedom can be on the line.
In the United States, more than 3 million children are abused, neglected, and exploited every year, according to the Child help National Child Abuse Hotline. This number is staggering and shows that child abuse is a real issue that must be urgently addressed.
The good news is that children are often saved from dangerous situations. When suspicions are raised, professionals such as teachers and law enforcement officers can act quickly to protect children.
When people in trusted positions report suspicions, they take their responsibilities toward children seriously. However, sometimes, people make guesses or accusations that turn out to be false, and businesses sometimes end up in legal trouble.
It is important to note that many of the 3 million people cited above were, in fact, dangerous to a child in one way or another. Teachers, police officers, and social workers have a legal duty to report suspicions of child abuse, and they do. When people in these professions make guesses or accusations, the actions taken by law enforcement and CPS are often based on those impressions.
You may feel worried, frustrated, and alone if you have been wrongly accused of child abuse. Even so, you have important protections under the law.
For instance, every case must go through the criminal justice system. This includes the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent, the right to a trial, and the right to an appeal. Because people are given these rights, they know what to expectand feel much more confident in the criminal justice system.
Preparing for discovery is part of building a solid defense against child abuse charges. Discovery involves the government turning over the evidence they have against the defendant before trial. Utah must disclose all physical evidence, witness statements, information, and notes related to their investigation, and all information gathered using tools like wiretaps.
What to Expect in a Civil Neglect Case
In cases where the parent or guardian is unfit to care for the child or incapable of providing a safe environment, the government may remove the child from home. This starts a civil neglect case. The proceedings are handled differently in each state, but parents are allowed visitation with their children throughout the process.
The allegations may seem overwhelming, and you may be angry or scared. You may not feel like handling this alone.
Seeking counsel immediately is essential when you are fighting allegations of neglect. While no attorney can guarantee results, experienced counsel can provide valuable help in crafting an effective defense strategy for you.
The job of a GAL is to represent the children's best interest in the divorce process.
Unlike the prosecutor and defense attorney, the role of the GAL can be somewhat nebulous to those unfamiliar with child abuse law. The GAL argues that the accused is harmful to the child, which is somewhat different from the prosecutor's argument that the accused has committed the crime. Like the defense attorney, the GAL will be arguing for the child's best interests, not just for getting the accused off the hook or determining whether or not the child is physically or emotionally abused.