If you have been charged with child abuse or neglect, don't wait to find out what will happen next before contacting an experienced Michigan child abuse defense attorney. Even if criminal charges are not filed, your parental rights may be threatened. It is critical to have an experienced Michigan child abuse defense attorney on your side from the very beginning to keep your family together.
At. Grabel & Associates, we understand the delicate nature of child abuse charges, including what they mean for your reputation and the future of your family. Far too often child abuse allegations are made as the result of improper motives such as by an angry spouse in a custody dispute or by a well-intentioned but misguided adult. School workers, doctors, social workers and others are required by Michigan child abuse laws to report suspected instances of harm.
As experienced child abuse defense attorneys it is our job to protect you by thoroughly investigating all charges and getting to the bottom of any false allegations in order to provide you the best defense possible and to protect your future. Even where criminal charges aren’t filed, Michigan Children’s Protective Services may get involved, and we want to be sure that you have the resources to fight back and keep your family together. For over 100 combined years, our Michigan child abuse defense lawyers have worked tirelessly to defend individuals accused of any form of child abuse. Our criminal defense law firm has the experience to defend clients charged with physical or emotional child abuse as well as child sexual abuse, such as:
Under Michigan law, child abuse includes non-accidental physical or mental harm to a child “…by an individual who is responsible for the child's health and welfare.” People who may be found guilty of criminal child abuse include parents, teachers or even a member of the clergy. Child abuse can include intentional physical or mental injury, maltreatment, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation. Currently, Michigan child abuse crimes are divided into several different categories, and the penalties you face depend on your specific charges.
First-degree child abuse is the most serious of Michigan’s child abuse charges. These charges are filed in situations where law enforcement believes that a parent has intentionally inflicted serious physical or mental harm on a child. First-degree child abuse is typically filed where there’s evidence of brain damage, broken bones or injury to internal organs.
Because of the severity of the injuries to a child these charges are taken very seriously. Unfortunately, in an effort to protect children, law enforcement may be quick to charge the loving adults in a child’s life. As experienced child abuse defense attorneys we understand that injuries can happen for a number of reasons a fall on a playground, an injury inflicted by a friend or sibling, or as the result of a medical condition. Our compassionate child abuse defense lawyers will fight to protect you against first-degree child abuse charges.
First-degree child abuse charges may also be filed in instances where it is believed an adult has caused “serious mental harm” to a child. This includes situations where a child is kept isolated within his home in a way that interferes with his normal emotional or intellectual development. First-degree child abuse is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Michigan’s second-degree abuse is also a very serious charge, and is defined by law as where a parent or guardian “willfully fails to provide adequate care to a child, and neglects a child’s basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.” Parents who behave recklessly (such as drunk driving with a child in the car) or behave cruelly (such as constant taunting or bullying) may be charged with second-degree child abuse.
Second-degree child abuse is punishable by up to four years in prison.
Although not as serious as first and second-degree child abuse, third-degree child abuse and fourth-degree child abuse are both considered felonies and those convicted may face prison time.
As times have changed, corporal punishment (such as spanking) is no longer a widely accepted form of discipline. However despite what many people think, it is not illegal, although using excessive force can get you into trouble. You can be charged and convicted of child abuse if a prosecutor shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the amount of forced used was “unreasonable” as discipline. If you are faced with Michigan criminal child abuse charges based on the type of discipline you use, working with a Michigan child abuse defense attorney is important to immediately prepare your defense.
Michigan’s “parental kidnapping law” prohibits one parent from keeping a child away from another for more than 24 hours with the intent to hide or conceal the child from the other parent. However, you may have a defense to parental kidnapping if you have taken a child to protect him or her from abuse or neglect.
Any number of reasons can lead to an investigation by Children’s Protective Services (CPS). CPS may be notified when a parent has been arrested for a sex crime, if a teacher suspects abuse, or a doctor notices an unusual bruise. Even where criminal charges are not involved, CPS may conduct an investigation that can affect your parental rights.
A CPS case is different than a criminal case and officials have great leeway to take your children away from you. In fact, Michigan law allows probation officers, county agents and officers to immediately take a child into custody even without a court order, if they believe the child's surroundings may be harmful to his or her health or welfare (MCL 712A.14). Unfortunately, although CPS hearings are designed to help families, in many instances they tear families apart.
At Grabel & Associates, we understand the tactics used by CPS and have successfully defended parents fighting to keep their families together.
The Michigan criminal defense lawyers at Grabel & Associates know how emotionally damaging allegations of child abuse can be. We are committed to fighting charges and have a long history of representing parents in criminal child abuse cases and in CPS hearings. For a free consultation to discuss how a Michigan child abuse defense lawyer from Grabel & Associates can help you, call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll-free at 1-800-342-7896, or you can use the contact form on this website to Email our law firm.