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If someone is accused of child abuse, but is innocent, the most important thing to remember is to not say a word to the authorities, or others, even if it is simply statements that are defensive. The next step is to understand the trouble that has arose, and to secure the services of a good attorney. Begin learning as much about the local laws that pertain to child abuse, as well as current and past cases in which the defendant won. The final step in the process is to make a character witness list and get notarized statements that affirm the fact that the charges are unfounded. When accused of child abuse, always trust the steps that have been personally taken, and do not completely rely on others to get the charges dropped.
Whether an arrest has been made, or if Child Services have removed the children from the home, never make any statements until a good lawyer is obtained and is present. If no official charges have been brought up, demand that the rights as a citizen are upheld and they immediately release or make an arrest. Make no verbal statements because they will be used in court, and no matter what is offered or threatened by the interrogators, never sign anything. Always seek the counsel of a qualified lawyer before doing anything.
In order to choose the most appropriate lawyer when accused of child abuse, an analysis needs to be conducted. Just because the lawyer has a good winning record does not mean that they are the best in this particular instance. Review their past cases and see how many are similar to the child abuse case being fought. If the attorney and their team, have handled many cases such as this, and have a winning record, then they are worth spending the money to hire. If they are not qualified for an abuse case, then they should be passed over and a different lawyer evaluated. Do this until the best one is located, as long as they are available and affordable.
Personal education is one of the most important steps that needs to be taken. A person accused of child abuse cannot, and should not, rely on anyone but themselves to clear their name. Learn as much about the local and federal laws as possible. Try to find any discrepancies within the laws, and then search through court records for cases similar to the current one. If a case was won by the defendant, study it carefully and figure out exactly what they did to be found not guilty. It might be a good idea to enlist the aid of the attorney or attorneys that defended the case as well. If the case that is being looked at is similar, then it is a good bet that the lawyer will be able to at least maximize the chances of a favorable ruling once court has begun.
The final step that needs to be taken when accused of child abuse is to do some footwork and make up a list of possible people that could testify as character witnesses. Make a list on separate note cards and contact each of them in turn. If they are willing to make a statement, write it down along with the date and time that it will be ready. Once the statement is ready, meet the person at a public notary’s office and have the document notarized with their signature. Turn all these statements in to the attorney handling the case, and inform them whether the person is willing to testify in court or not.
I have a cousin who works for the local Department of Human Resources, which in our state is the equivalent of Child Protective Services. She tells a lot of horror stories about child abuse victims, and the difficulties a social worker faces whenever he or she tries to remove a child from a truly abusive home.
I asked her one time about what happens if a person is falsely accused of child abuse, possibly by a vengeful spouse or mistaken neighbor. She said if someone calls their office to report possible child abuse, it has a legal obligation to do a preliminary investigation. Even if the anonymous complainant doesn't seem to have the facts straight or could be lying
deliberately, someone has to go to the home and interview the child and the parents.
What happens next depends on that social worker's professional opinion. The case could be dropped at that point based on a lack of evidence. The complainant could be interrogated. The parent could be arrested for physical child abuse. If you are the accused parent, be prepared for any outcome.
I had a friend who took her 4 year old son out to the car in a grocery store parking lot. He had apparently been acting up in the store and she wanted to discipline him for his bad behavior. According to her, she took off a soft flip-flop shoe and slapped him with it a few times as she reprimanded him. Another customer in the parking lot saw her hitting him with the shoe and took down her license plate number.
I assume this person called the local Child Protection Services office and filed an anonymous complaint. Two days later, a social worker appeared at my friend's door and insisted on examining her son on the basis of
a child abuse complaint. That meeting did not go well. My friend ended up forcing the social worker out of the front door, and the social worker vowed to return with her supervisor.
What I learned from that incident was that if you are ever accused of child abuse, you need to let certain things run their course. It doesn't really matter to the CPS worker if you're innocent of the charges or not. That's for other people to decide later. He or she is there to make sure a child is not being abused. Had my friend just allowed the social worker to check for evidence of physical child abuse, it wouldn't have escalated the way it did.
I understand that being falsely accused of child abuse would make most people angry, but it's that anger that can also make things more difficult down the road.
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