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Montgomery County Child Abuse Lawyer

Child abuse charges should not be taken lightly. They can have long-term implications and impact a person’s future employment, family matters, educational, and housing opportunities. These types of charges can impact a person’s life and disrupt their current family situation. It is important to have a Montgomery County child abuse lawyer who understands the severity of the charges early on in the process. An experienced domestic violence lawyer can help a person determine the best course of action.

What is Child Abuse in Montgomery County?

Child abuse is a physical and abusive assault on a child. Maryland courts can identify the difference between a parent spanking their child for disciplinary purposes versus actually abusing the child. Usually, the degree of determination between those two is quite subjective. It depends on the type of injuries sustained, how consistently the typical discipline took place, what issue was being disciplined, the age of the child, and things of that nature.

Process Once Child Abuse is Reported

Child Protective Services (CPS) is often involved when child abuse is reported. CPS is the agency of the Maryland Government whose responsibility is to determine whether children are living in a safe environment. The agents usually conduct a home visit as well as extensive interviews in conjunction with the police to make determinations about whether a child should be removed from the home and taken into protective custody such as foster care.

Civil and Criminal Investigations

Simultaneous investigations are conducted by the police and the state to determine whether criminal charges should be brought. In child abuse cases, even though CPS makes a determination that a child is not safe in their residence; that is not enough to constitute criminal prosecution of a case.
To criminally prosecute, the state must meet a burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt which is different than the burden Child Protective Services bases its decisions. Therefore, one who might be subject to some action by Child Protective Services might not be subject to criminal charges by the court because of a lack of evidence.

Immediate Criminal Penalties

Immediate criminal consequences associated with child abuse charges may include a period of incarceration as well as a period of probation, or more importantly, they could potentially have an impact on the family unit. Usually in such cases, when a member of the family is charged with child abuse, the family is separated or has limited contact with the individual charged with child abuse until the issues are mitigated by the court.

Long-Term Implications and Consequences

The long-term consequences associated with a child abuse conviction are periods of incarceration, lengthy periods of probation, and the possibility of a felony charge on a person’s record for the rest of their life. That has its own collateral consequences of employment, loans, eligibility for professional licenses, and participation in various education programs. A Montgomery County child abuse lawyer understands there is a possibility of not being permitted to have any contact with the child involved for a period of probation and sometimes beyond as ordered by the court.

Results of a Civil case Affecting a Criminal Case

The civil case involving child abuse usually does not affect a criminal case. The findings in the civil case are not evidence but rather determinations made by the presiding party. Statements made under oath during the civil proceedings can be brought in and used against an individual in criminal proceedings.

Results of a Criminal Case Affecting a Civil Case

A criminal conviction for child abuse in criminal court is extremely detrimental to somebody charged with that allegation because the standard of proof in criminal cases is more significant than a civil case.
Another facet of a civil case is custody of the child: where they can live and how often they can see the person who abused them. It is significant because when a court finds a person guilty of child abuse charges, one of the conditions of the court is that the person has no contact with the child they abused. That might bolster the civil case pertaining to custody. It also makes it unnecessary because the relief sought in the civil aspect is usually already covered by the court’s order with respect to the charges and any subsequent probation.

Importance of a Lawyer

Child abuse charges are among the most serious charges in our criminal system because they involve the most vulnerable members of our society.  It is important to have a defense attorney with an equal level of experience to respond to the allegations and make sure the person receives the best result possible regarding the criminal charges. If you are facing child abuse charges, it is imperative that you seek a Montgomery County child abuse lawyer right away.