When someone hits you with an accusation or charge for child abuse, this is what everyone sees when they look at you – regardless of what really happened.
If you find yourself in this situation, you can feel utterly defeated and trapped. In shock. Confused about what’s going to happen next.
It may not feel this way, but much of that is up to you.
Do nothing and you may suffer serious criminal penalties and possibly have your children taken away from you. In some cases, you may even be prohibited from contacting them.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide of what to expect and how to respond proactively to allegations of child abuse and defend yourself.
After the Charge: How to Respond to Allegations of Child Abuse in Colorado
If you are hit with accusations of child abuse, it is imperative to proactively respond to these allegations as quickly as possible. However, the wrong response could do far more harm than good. Below, we provide a guide of how to respond if you are accused or charged.
Take allegations seriously. No matter how unreasonable an allegation of child abuse may seem, it is imperative to take any and all allegations seriously by responding as soon as they occur.
Hire a child abuse defense attorney. To fight back against child abuse charges, you will need a lawyer who is experienced in defending these types of cases. Importantly, this is not the same as a child custody case – you generally will need a Denver child abuse defense attorney, not a family lawyer.
Do not speak to law enforcement or CPS without a lawyer present. Although it’s important to address allegations of child abuse as soon as possible, doing so without the help of an attorney could do far more harm than good. Do not speak to law enforcement or CPS agents without your lawyer. We also recommend that you refrain from discussing the case with others, including friends and family.
Visit your children. Even if you have lost custody of your kids, you have the constitutional right to parent your children – and should insist on visitation no matter what. Your child abuse defense attorney can help with this.
Defenses to Denver Colorado Child Abuse Charges
If your case moves forward to child abuse charges, all is not lost. A number of defense strategies may be available to help your case. Your child abuse defense attorney will be able to assess which strategies are the most applicable to your situation.
False Allegations of Child Abuse. Unfortunately, false allegations of child abuse are all too common. This could stem from a simple misunderstanding, or it could be a tactic used by a vengeful ex to gain legal leverage. In many cases, the best defense may be to simply argue that you did not do it.
If your accuser purposefully made wrongful allegations, it will be important to counter-attack these allegations, providing evidence of the lie or similar wrongful conduct by your accuser.
The Injury Is the Result of an Accident. Sometimes child abuse charges can arise from a misunderstanding. For example, a well-meaning accuser could believe that your child’s injury was the result of abuse, rather than an accident.
As long as the accident was not a result of recklessness or gross carelessness, accidents are not considered child abuse. For example, if you accidentally slam your toddler’s finger in a door, this does not constitute child abuse. In this case, your attorney should work to present evidence that an accident occurred, and that this resulted in the injury in question.
The Injury Is the Result of Something Other Than Child Abuse. Sometimes children just get injured. For example, your child could get into a fight with another child, causing an injury that appears to be a result of child abuse. Alternatively, your child may have a medical condition that contributes to his or her injuries. For example, children with “brittle bone disease” can sustain broken bones from a simple trip and fall.
Parent’s Right to Discipline. Parents are free to discipline their children in any way that they choose, so long as it does not cause bodily injury or psychological trauma to the child. In some cases, you may be able to raise the defense of parental privilege so long as the discipline of your child was reasonable and did not result in injuries.
However, if your child had injuries more severe than minor bruising, or the method of discipline was one that would cause psychological trauma, parental privileges do not apply.
Ultimately, every child abuse case is different, but the stakes are always high for the family’s future. That’s why it’s so important to be proactive by reacting quickly and appropriately to any accusations of child abuse – no matter what.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.