Fighting Allegations Of Child Abuse And Neglect
Experienced Defense Against Criminal Charges And CPS Removal
Child abuse and neglect are considered such serious offenses that they are charged as felony crimes in most cases. These offenses can result in jail or prison time and a permanent black mark on your criminal record. Aside from the criminal case, Michigan’s Child Protective Services (CPS) may try to remove your child from your home and terminate your parental rights.
At Jocuns Law Firm, my staff and I fully understand the gravity of the situation and the urgency. We also know that accusations of child abuse and child neglect can arise from malicious motivations, to get revenge for a perceived wrong or to gain advantage in family court proceedings.
I have experience defending criminal charges as well as fighting CPS removal, in Lapeer County and surrounding jurisdictions of Michigan. Call my firm right away at 810-498-2772 to set up a free consultation.
Michigan Laws Concerning Child Abuse And Neglect
Under Michigan Compiled Laws 750.136b, child abuse and neglect refer to acts that result in, or that could result in, harm or injury to a person under 18 years of age. The statute applies to persons responsible for the care or supervision of a child or children: parents, guardians or other persons with custody or authority over a child.
What Is Considered Child Abuse?
Abuse and neglect can consist of willful actions causing a child to suffer physical harm, serious physical harm, and/or mental harm. Physical harm includes injury to the child’s physical condition, such as bruises. Serious physical harm causing impairment to the child’s health or well-being can include:
- Brain damage
- Skull or bone fracture
- Dislocated joints
- Severe cuts
Mental harm can cause adverse changes to the child’s thoughts, mood, judgment or coping abilities, either temporary or permanent.
What Constitutes Child Neglect?
Charges for abuse and neglect can also arise in Michigan if the person is alleged to have put the child at risk of harm or actually caused harm by willfully abandoning the child, leaving a young child unattended or failing to provide them with food, clothing or shelter.
What Are The Degrees Of Abuse And Neglect In Michigan?
Michigan law enumerates four degrees of abuse and neglect.
First-degree abuse and neglect, the most serious level, occurs when a person knowingly or intentionally causes serious physical or mental harm to a child.
Second-degree abuse and neglect charges can apply for:
- A willful omission or reckless act causing the child to suffer serious physical or mental harm
- An act that could result in the child suffering serious physical or mental harm, regardless of whether either happened
- A cruel act that is brutal, inhuman or sadistic or that torments the child, regardless of whether harm resulted
- A licensed child care provider or representative of the facility violating a family or group home rule, which results in the death of a child
Third-degree abuse and neglect involves a personal knowingly or intentionally doing one of the following:
- Causing a child to suffer physical harm
- Doing something that puts the child at risk of harm or injury and which results in the child suffering harm
Fourth-degree abuse and neglect occurs when a person either:
- Engages in an omission or reckless act causing a child to suffer physical harm
- Engages in conduct that puts the child at risk of harm or injury, regardless of whether such resulted.
There is some overlap and gray areas of the statute which may result in being overcharged when you had no intention to cause harm or did not knowingly put a child at risk. The charges are also influenced by who is alleging abuse or neglect or initiating the investigation. Is it a mandated reporter who is jumping to conclusions? Is it a co-parent, former partner or relative who is purposely trying to get you in trouble or gain custody?
What Are The Penalties In Michigan For For Abuse And Neglect?
A Michigan judge could impose the following punishments upon a conviction
- First-degree abuse and neglect:
- Life or any term of years in prison
- Second-degree abuse and neglect:
- First offense: Not more than 10 years in prison
- Subsequent offense: Not more than 20 years in prison
- Third-degree abuse and neglect:
- First offense: Not more than two years in prison
- Subsequent offense: Not more than four years in prison
- Fourth-degree abuse and neglect:
- First offense (misdemeanor): Not more than one year in jail
- Subsequent offense (felony): Not more than two years in prison
My Firm Can Help Build Your Defense
I am criminal defense lawyer Bernard Jocuns. I have 20 years of experience defending the accused, including specific experience in abuse and neglect cases. I will examine all evidence, testimony and reports connected to the charges to mount a defense. I will make sure that you have an opportunity to tell your side of the story and counter the government’s version of events.
My staff and I take a holistic approach to these serious and sensitive cases. The stigma attached to child abuse and neglect allegations can have a profound impact on your life, your personal relationships, your career and your lifelong bond with your child or children.
Child Protective Services Defense
As a parent, your top priority is caring for your child or children. Unfortunately, misunderstandings or miscommunications can arise, leading to reports of abuse and/or neglect and putting your relationship with your child in jeopardy.
If someone suspects that you have abused or neglected your child, they could make a report to Michigan’s Children’s Protective Services (CPS). Mandated reporters, like teachers and doctors, are required to report their suspicions. Such reports may prompt an investigation and court hearings. Depending on the outcome of these proceedings, your child or children could be removed from your home. Your parental rights could be terminated.
I am passionate about helping families through difficult situations and seeking favorable solutions. I will thoroughly review your case and the evidence the CPS investigator has collected. I will develop a strategy to challenge the allegations of abuse or neglect, and I represent you at any court hearings to fight hard for your parental rights and avoid the drastic step of removal of your child or children from your home.
If law enforcement or CPS have already removed your child, I can help you take the steps to show Child Protective Services and the court that you are fit to regain care and custody. I can also defend you on any criminal charges that may arise in connection with a CPS removal.
Are You On The State Registry For Abuse And Neglect?
The state of Michigan maintains a database of individuals who have been investigated for abuse and/or neglect of children. A confirmed finding by Child Protective Services of serious abuse or neglect, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation can result in placement on the registry, along with certain criminal convictions. A person can be added to the list even if no criminal charges were ever filed.
Once your name has been added to the Michigan Child Abuse And Neglect Central Registry, it can show up on employment background checks and affect security clearances. The law was recently changed to make the registry more accessible to the public.
Fortunately, the legislature has created a separate legal process for getting removed from the Central Registry. Jocuns Law Firm has helped people pursue this remedy. I can represent you in an expungement hearing before the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules to argue that you do not pose a danger to children and should be stricken from the abuse and neglect registry.
Get Help In A Free Consultation
I will explain the law, the potential consequences and where you stand. Then we can determine a course of action to challenge the allegations of abuse or neglect and shield you from undue punishment or being separated from your children. My mindset is to prepare for trial rather than simply pleading you guilty.