Child Abuse & Neglect Attorney in Michigan
Child abuse and neglect is a very serious crime in Michigan, and, depending on the circumstances of an alleged offense, the defendant may lose his/her family and could be looking at prison time. Furthermore, defending yourself against a child abuse charge can be difficult, especially when it involves the testimony of a child. Cases of child abuse involve can involve beating, neglect, endangerment, and more. Even if charges are not filed, your parental rights may also be threatened in this type of case. CPS will investigate allegation of abuse and neglect.
Because law enforcement and Michigan courts are very strict in these cases, it’s essential to have an experienced and diligent child abuse and neglect attorney at your side. Facing the harsh realities of a child abuse allegation is not easy, but with the representation and legal counsel from the criminal defense attorneys at Grabel & Associates, you’ll stand a fighting chance in courts. Don’t let a child abuse charge tear your family apart, and call our team of attorneys at Grabel & Associates by dialing 1-800-342-7896. Free consultations are available.
What is Child Abuse & Neglect
According to the Michigan Department of Human Services, child abuse and neglect is defined as “Harm or threatened harm to a child’s health or welfare that occurs through non-accidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or maltreatment, by a parent, a legal guardian, or any other person responsible for the child’s health or welfare or by a teacher, a teacher’s aide, or a member of the clergy.”
Severity of Child Abuse & Neglect Charges
When determining the level of severity regarding the child abuse charges, the Child Protective Services (CPS), courts, law enforcement, and prosecutors heavily consider the severity of the child’s injuries and the alleged circumstances surrounding the cause of the injuries. Often, these cases begin with CPS investigations, and so the CPS findings are given substantial consideration. In general, and according to Michigan Penal Code § 750.136b, the following definitions generally correspond to the alleged crime’s severity:
- Cruel — Actions that are brutal, inhuman, sadistic, or that which torments
- Omission — A willful failure to provide food, clothing, or shelter necessary for a child’s welfare or willful abandonment of a child
- Physical harm — Refers to any injury to the child’s physical condition
- Serious physical harm — Refers to any injury that seriously impairs the child’s health, including, but not limited to, brain damage, a skull or bone fracture, subdural hemorrhage or hematoma, dislocation, sprain, internal injury, poisoning, burn or scald, or severe cut.
- Serious mental harm — Refers to any injury to the child’s mental condition that leads to a temporary or permanent, visibly demonstrable manifestations of a substantial disorder of thought or mood which significantly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life.
Penalties for Child Abuse Charges
Corresponding with the above definitions, some specific charges and their associated punishments for child abuse include:
- First Degree Child Abuse — This charge can occur when a person willfully and knowingly causes serious physical or mental harm to a child. This is usually filed when there is evidence of brain damage, broken bones, or injury to internal organs. The punishment can result in life imprisonment or any term of years.
- Child Degree Child Abuse — This charge can occur when a person’s omission causes serious mental or physical harm, a person’s reckless act causes serious mental or physical harm, or a person knowingly or intentionally commits an act that is likely to cause harm, regardless of whether harm actually occurred. The punishment can result in up to 10 years imprisonment for a first offense, and 20 years for a second offense.
- Third Degree Child Abuse — This charge can occur when a person intentionally causes harm or commits an act that poses an unreasonable risk of harm (and the child is harmed). The punishment can result in up to 2 years imprisonment.
- Fourth Degree Child Abuse — This charge can occur when a person’s reckless act or omission causes physical harm or commits an act that poses an unreasonable risk of harm (and the child is unharmed). The punishment can result in up to 1 year of imprisonment.
Common Child Abuse Defenses
Unfortunately, far too often are child abuse charges filed with improper motives, such as an angry spouse in a custody dispute or a well-intentioned but misguided adult. Additionally, school workers, doctors, social workers, and others are required by Michigan child abuse laws to reported suspected incidents of harm. Often, this will get the Michigan CPS involved as well.
If you were charged with child abuse, you’ll need a criminal defense lawyer who can devise a sound legal defense. Some defenses include:
- False allegation of child abuse
- An injury that was the result of an accident
- An injury that was the result of something other than child abuse
- A parent’s right to discipline
Call the Leading Child Abuse & Neglect Attorneys in Michigan
At Grabel & Associates, our child abuse defense attorneys understand how emotionally damaged a child abuse allegation can be, and we are here to vigorously defend your case, investigate the charges, and guide you through the legal process, whether in a criminal court hearing or a CPS hearing. For a free consultation with your local attorneys, contact Grabel & Associates today.