Misdemeanor Child Abuse
Every year, more than 300,000 reports of child abuse are made in the United States. While some of these reports are factual and warrant investigation, others are baseless and untrue. However, whether the accusations of child abuse are true or not, these accusations have the potential to ruin the reputation of the accused.
As experienced violent crime lawyers, we are often called upon to represent people who are charged with child abuse and other nefarious crimes. While some child abuse crimes are considered misdemeanors in North Carolina, they still have the potential to result in jail time or probation, as well as to negatively affect the defendant’s child custody rights. If you have been charged with misdemeanor child abuse, are facing a child endangerment misdemeanor charge, or you believe you are under investigation for a related crime, contact Kurtz & Blum for a confidential consultation to discuss your case.
NC Misdemeanor Child Abuse Charges
According to North Carolina General Statute §14-318.2, a person commits misdemeanor child abuse in North Carolina when a parent of a child younger than 16 or another person providing care to the child inflicts physical injury on the child, allows someone else to inflict physical injury on the child, or allows a substantial risk of physical injury to the child to be created.
This offense is a class A1 misdemeanor in NC, which is one of the most serious misdemeanor violations in the state.
NC Felony Child Abuse Charges
According to North Carolina General Statute §14-318.4, a parent or caretaker can be charged with Class D felony child abuse if they intentionally inflict serious physical injury on a child less than 16 years old or intentionally commit an assault on the child that results in any serious physical injury to the child. Other potential child abuse charges in North Carolina include:
- Class B2 child abuse – Intentional infliction of serious bodily injury to a child younger than 16 years of age, intentional commission of assault that results in any serious bodily injury to the child or in permanent or protracted loss or impairment of any mental or emotional function of the child
- Class D child abuse – Serious bodily injury, prostitution, or other sexual acts perpetrated on a minor
- Class E child abuse – Willful or grossly negligent acts or omissions of care toward a minor that demonstrate a reckless disregard for human life that results in serious bodily injury
- Class G child abuse – Willful or grossly negligent acts or omissions of care toward a minor that demonstrate a reckless disregard for human life that results in serious physical injury
How Are Child Abuse Charges Investigated?
Generally, police investigate these types of cases by evaluating the child. Medical or mental health experts might also get involved in the process. Additionally, NC Child Protective Services may be ordered to evaluate the entire family and household environment. These state agents may interview neighbors, family, friends, and others about parenting skills and other information.
Corporal punishment in NC is allowed by parents, but such action can be considered abuse if it goes too far. The N.C. Child Protective Services Manual notes that “significant trauma and tissue damage, such as bruises, welts, or lacerations may be signs of child neglect (inappropriate discipline) or child abuse, depending on the extent of the injuries.” Therefore, parents must be careful to moderate their actions to avoid falling victim to the system.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Child Abuse
Being convicted of misdemeanor child abuse can result in life-altering consequences for you and your family. Depending on your prior criminal history and other details of the crime, the court can impose an Active, Intermediate, or Community punishment as your sentence. The maximum penalty is 150 days in jail. Additionally, your child custody rights can also be negatively impacted.
How Will This Affect My Custody Situation?
Family law cases are separate from criminal cases. However, a criminal conviction or accusation of child abuse can negatively impact the accused’s custody rights. The family court is primarily concerned with what is in the child’s best interests. If the court determines that a child is not safe while in the care and custody of the parent, it can order primary custody to the other parent, limit parental visitation, or only permit supervised visitation.
Possible Defenses to Child Abuse Charges
There may be various defenses that you can raise to accusations of child abuse. For example, potential defenses might include:
- Your child’s injuries were due to an accident
- Someone else injured your child
- Your child suffers a medical condition that makes them suffer physical marks that appear to be from abuse
- The other parent is making false accusations against you to gain the upper hand in a family law case
- You were defending yourself against a violent child
- You were merely disciplining your child
An experienced child abuse lawyer can analyze the circumstances surrounding your case and determine the viability of various defenses.
What to Do After You Are Accused of Child Abuse
There are several things you can do to strengthen your case, including:
- Taking the charges seriously
- Learning about the charges you are facing
- Retaining the assistance of an experienced lawyer
- Refusing to talk to investigators without your lawyer
- Keeping notes as the case progresses
- Sharing information with your lawyer about why the accuser might be falsely accusing you
- Identifying people who can testify on your behalf and about your character and parenting
- Cooperating with your lawyer in your defense
Contact Kurtz & Blum Today
If you are charged with misdemeanor child abuse, Kurtz & Blum is in your corner. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers have served clients since 1998. We use a collaborative approach and more than 50 years of combined legal experience to mount a strategic defense. We also routinely handle family law cases and can assist with the potential custody issues such charges may raise. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.