The New York Penal Code sets forth the elements of what constitutes the crime of child abuse. The law broadly defines child abuse to include any type of cruelty that is inflicted upon a minor child. This includes physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual assault or exploitation, and neglect.
If you face charges for child abuse, you need to understand what to expect in this type of criminal prosecution. You need to know your rights and the vital importance of retaining a skilled, experienced Long Island child abuse lawyer.
General Information on Child Abuse Investigations
The New York Office of Child and Family Services is a state agency that bears the initial burden of investigating a report of child abuse. If the initial investigation by the agency indicates that a child has been abused, or neglected, law enforcement officials are brought into the matter. Indeed, depending on the facts and circumstances of a case, law enforcement may be involved immediately in an investigation.
Two separate types of judicial proceedings may stem from an investigation of child abuse in New York. First, court proceedings occur to protect the interests and welfare of the child. Second, criminal proceedings can be initiated against person alleged to have abused a child.
Defenses in a Child Abuse Case
Developing defenses in a child abuse case represents one of the most challenging aspects of the criminal justice system. One area in which a defense can be mounted is countering a charge of child abuse with evidence that the conduct that caused the harm was accidently. Although that will not exonerate a person charged with child abuse, it may result in a conviction on a lesser charge than the top one in a criminal complaint.
Another possible viable defense is that the person charged is not the actual perpetrator of the child abuse. For example, if both parents have been charged with child abuse, a valid defense might be that only the other parent is responsible for abusing the child.
A contention that a person who allegedly abused a child suffers from a mental health defect or condition may provide a defense in a child abuse case, in very limited situations. A not guilty be reason of insanity verdict is hard to come by in a child abuse case. However, demonstration of a mental illness might serve as a mitigating factor which results in a less severe sentence in some instances.
Plea negotiations are a type of defensive strategy employed in child abuse cases. In some instances, the best a person charged with child abuse can hope for in the way of a resolution of a case is to obtain a reduction in the initial charges via plea negotiations. A skilled lawyer with a significant background in representing clients in child abuse cases is invaluable in this type of negotiation.
Penalties for Child Abuse
Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding a prosecution for child abuse, the penalties can be severe. The penalties associated with a child abuse case are governed in part by whether an alleged perpetrator is charged with assault and battery, some sort of sex crime of another type of violation.
The New York Penal Code fairly recently changed to permit a longer “look-back period” when it comes to prosecution and penalties in a child abuse case. Historically, a person could face aggravated child abuse charges if he or she had a prior conviction for the crime in the past three years. The new look-back law permits an aggravation of charges, and associated penalties, if a person was found guilty of child abuse in the preceding 10 years.
Child Protection Proceedings
If a parent, or other legal guardian, is named as the defendant in a criminal prosecution for child abuse, that individual also faces judicial proceedings to protect the child. Separate and distinct from the criminal process, a parent accused of child support may require an attorney both for the criminal and the child in need of care or protection proceedings. Some attorneys have a background in both types of proceedings, but not all do have that experience. The experience of legal counsel in both areas must be identified in advance of retaining an attorney or attorneys.
Retain a Long Island Child Abuse Attorney
A person being investigated for child abuse, or charged with the crime, must be proactive in retaining legal representation. An individual in this position must schedule an initial consultation with legal counsel with all deliberate speed.
During an initial consultation, a Long Island child abuse lawyer will evaluate the facts and circumstances of the case. The attorney will provide thoughts on possible defenses to the charges. In addition, the lawyer will answers questions presented by the person facing child abuse prosecution. As a matter of practice, a Long Island child abuse lawyer does not charge an attorney fee for an initial consultation in this type of criminal case.