Regrettably, accusations of child abuse occur quite often. Particularly in high-conflict custody battles, tempers can shoot up rapidly and both parties tend to feel the strain. In certain situations, one parent may think that his/her chances of winning child custody will increase if he/she accuses the other parent of child abuse.
If you are being investigated or prosecuted for offenses associated with child abuse in Arizona, it is very important that you seek legal advice and representation. Since cases of suspected child abuse are often not so black and white, it is important that you hire an attorney who is well-versed in Arizona child abuse laws.
Phoenix Criminal Attorney is a criminal defense law firm that helps people who are facing criminal charges, including child abuse charges in Phoenix, Arizona. Our competent, aggressive and experienced attorneys always work tirelessly to gather additional evidence, build a case for appeal and advocate on behalf of our esteemed clients. As long as you have us on your side, the truth will be fully revealed and your name will be cleared.
What Constitutes Child Abuse in Arizona
Child abuse is defined as any non-accidental behavior that puts a child’s physical and/or emotional health and development in danger. Arizona Child Abuse Laws criminalize any form of abuse of children under the age of 18 by a parent, caretaker, someone living in their home, teacher or a social worker.
Forms of Child Abuse
According to the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS), child abuse and neglect can occur in various forms, including:
- Physical abuse: Any intentional behavior i.e. shaking, hitting, kicking, burning, etc, evidenced by physical injuries such as burns, cuts, skin bruises, pressure sores, bleeding, broken bones, or any other physical condition that imperils a child’s health or welfare.
- Emotional abuse: Any behavior or attitude that interferes with the social development or mental health of a child, such as yelling, shouting, name-calling, degrading/belittling, or use of vulgar language, whether directed to the child or not. Emotional abuse can be evidenced by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior.
- Sexual abuse: Any sexual behavior or act with a minor, including sexual intercourse, oral intercourse, indecent touching/fondling, child pornography, and prostitution, etc.
- Neglect: Any act or behavior that puts a child at an unreasonable risk of harm, such as leaving minor alone or unsupervised, locking a minor in or out of the house. Neglect also constitutes a failure to give a child necessary care, i.e. negligent medical care, unsafe housing, inadequate food and/or clothing, poor hygiene, etc.
- Abandonment: Failure of a parent to offer reasonable support to his/her child, especially when such failure is intentional and persists for an indefinite period.
Potential criminal charges that you could face in relation to child abuse under specific statutes may include:
- Assault (simple assault or aggravated assault)
- Statutory sexual assault
- Institutional sexual assault
- Production, possession, and distribution of child pornography
- Transmission of obscene or sexual content to a minor
- Endangering the welfare of a child
- Corruption of a minor
- Failure to report sexual assault
Related Charges to Child Abuse
- Child labor
The role of children in the workplace has been a constant source of regulation and policy in America. Considering the many regulations, not so many people are aware of the current roles of children in the workplace in the state of Arizona. Both federal and Arizona state laws governing child labor have a variety of age restrictions based on the type of work. Moreover, there are certain types of work prohibited to minors in certain age groups.
So, what happens if an employer contravenes the laws that protect child employees? The Industrial Commission of Arizona’s Department of Labor is tasked with the role of enforcing and administering the youth employment laws in the state. If the commission has reasonable cause to believe that you are in violation of any provision of any rule or regulation, it may issue a cease and desist order. The order shall include a civil penalty not exceeding $1,000 against you.
If you are accused of a possible violation or believes that you have been improperly issued a cease and desist order, you may request a hearing in writing within 20 days after the date of issuance of the order. If you are not sure of how to proceed, it is important that you contact an attorney without delay.
- Child trafficking
Child trafficking encompasses the recruitment, transportation, harboring or receipt of minors for exploitation purposes. Minors are often trafficked for purposes such as of child domestic labor, drug couriering, begging, commercial sexual exploitation, child soldiering, etc.
Human trafficking, which includes child trafficking, and its consequences are outlined in a number of Arizona regulations. The state defines human trafficking as the trade of human beings for the purpose of slavery, commercial exploitation, or sexual exploitation. Anyone who is found guilty of human trafficking in Arizona will face felony charges. The severity of the punishment will mainly depend on the aggravating factors. Human trafficking crimes that are prosecuted most severely are the ones committed against children.
Other related charges to child abuse include forced adoption and child marriage. If you have been accused of any charges that are related to child abuse, it is imperative that you seek legal help and representation. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we can represent you in your case and ensure that you get acquitted of the charges.
Penalties for Child Abuse Offenses: Section 13-705
Penalties for child abuse offenses vary depending on several factors, including whether it was a first or second offense, on whether it is a simple misdemeanor or a serious felony. Whatever the case, the penalties are severe, which is why you need an attorney to help you get acquitted.
A dangerous crime against a minor is in the 1st degree if it is a completed offense. A dangerous crime against a child is in the 2nd degree if it is a predatory offense.
A dangerous crime against children is in the first degree if it is a completed offense and is in the second degree if it is a preparatory offense, except attempted first-degree murder, is a dangerous crime against children in the first degree
An individual who is convicted of a dangerous crime against children in the 1st degree shall be sentenced to life imprisonment. The convicted individual is not eligible for probation, suspension of sentence, pardon or release from confinement on any basis except as expressly authorized by section 31-233, subsection A or B until the individual has served at least 35 years or the sentence is commuted.
An individual who is convicted of a dangerous crime against a minor in the 2nd degree is guilty of a class 3 felony and can be imprisoned for 5 -15 years in prison. The individual is ineligible for release from confinement on any basis except as expressly allowed by section 31-233, subsection A or B until the individual has served a sentence imposed by the court.
An individual who is convicted of a dangerous crime against a minor in the 1st degree and who has been previously convicted of 2 or more predicate felonies shall be sentenced to life imprisonment. Such an individual is ineligible for probation, suspension of sentence, pardon or release from prison on any basis except as expressly allowed by section 31-233, subsection A or B until the individual has served at least 35 years or the sentence is commuted.
An individual who is convicted of a dangerous crime against a minor in the 2nd degree and who has been previously convicted of 2 or more predicate felonies is ineligible for probation, suspension of sentence, pardon or release from prison on any basis except as expressly allowed by section 31-233, subsection A or B until the individual has served his/her sentence or the sentence is commuted.
Consequences of a Child Abuse Accusation
Just like with other crimes, being charged with child abuse is such a big deal. Society at large generally looks down on individuals who have been accused of abusing children. The court system is not sympathetic either. If you are convicted of child abuse, you are likely to spend many years in prison. Even if you were not committing the abuse yourself, but you simply allowed a child to be abused, you can still be charged with child abuse.
Besides the increased probability of being convicted and sent away for many years in prison, a child abuse accusation, charge or conviction can haunt you in various other ways. Even the process of investigation into abuse against a minor can cause you to be listed on the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI).
The CACI is a confidential Department of Justice database that records information on individuals alleged to have committed child abuse and/or severe child neglect. The CICI is usually used by child care providers, adoption agencies, judges welfare agencies, law enforcement, professional licensing boards, military, prospective employers and volunteer organizations. CACI makes those entities aware of a listed individual’s potential danger to minors.
CACI name listing has a huge negative impact on the listed individual. Consequences of being listed include:
- Loss of employment, particularly in the fields of child care, health care, military, law enforcement, and education,
- Reduced chances of getting future employment in the above fields,
- Loss of security clearance in a profession or military,
- Loss of the right to adopt a child,
- Harm to an individual’s reputation
If you are listed on the CACI, you can request a CACI grievance hearing where you may request removal of your name from the CACI. The specific agency that submitted your name to CACI will send you a letter that notifies you that you have a right to dispute your name listing at a grievance hearing.
You have 30 days from the date stated in the letter in which to ask your grievance hearing. If you fail to respond to the letter timely, you will waive your right to the hearing. You will also be provided with response forms as well as details regarding CACI and the hearing procedures for the grievance hearing. You have a right to be offered legal representation at the grievance hearing by an attorney.
You do not need just any attorney to represent you. You want the best defense attorney that has a reputation for winning child abuse cases. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we have the most competent attorneys with a very successful track record. We will use our expertise to ensure that you are not only removed from the CACI listing, but also to ensure that you are acquitted.
What the Prosecution Needs to Prove in Order to Convict you of Child Abuse
You can be convicted of child abuse if:
- The prosecution can prove beyond reasonable doubt that you committed an intentional act and inflicted physical and/or mental injuries on a minor.
- The prosecution can prove beyond reasonable doubt that you willfully or by culpable negligence omitted or failed to provide care or supervision necessary to maintain a child’s health and well-being.
If the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove that you are guilty of child abuse or neglect, they may decide to drop the charges to avoid a “not guilty’ verdict.
Defenses to Child Abuse Charges
The first step in a child abuse case is to retain legal counsel. Once you have hired a defense attorney, your attorney can start investigating your case. Since child abuse charges require a meticulous investigation of the allegations, a strong defense may involve hiring a private investigator. The investigator can help with interviewing the witnesses and obtaining valuable evidence for the defense.
Defending a child abuse case may also involve negotiating with the authorities to obtain a favorable resolution or to show that child abuse did not occur. The defense may also entail taking the child abuse case to trial before a judge or a jury. There are various potential defenses that can be used in a child abuse case. They include:
- Fabricated accusations
Most cases, especially those involving custody disputes between parents, accusations of child abuse may be fabricated by one parent so as to obtain leverage in divorce or child custody proceedings or in order to enforce revenge against the other parent. In such a case, it is imperative to meticulously investigate the case and review social media posts, transcripts from court proceedings, and interview potential witnesses.
A competent defense attorney will be able to unearth fabricated allegations. They can be able to note inconsistent statements from witnesses who cannot keep their stories straight. An attorney can also be to discredit a witness based on his or her prior false allegations, dishonest reputation, criminal history, and motive to fabricate.
- Expert witness
There are many child abuse cases that involve accidental injuries to minors, which have been misconstrued by inexperienced or overzealous doctors. A defense attorney can have the information analyzed by an appropriate expert witness so as to establish whether there is another explanation and whether the accuser’s version of events is accurate.
With a persuasive expert report, your defense attorney can convince the prosecution to drop the child abuse charges. Moreover, the attorney can present a doctor to the judge or jury to convince them that it cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the child’s injuries were intentionally inflicted.
- Tainted evidence
The defense attorney can exploit legal issues arising from the case. For instance, the defense can undermine evidence presented by the prosecution if it is obtained through warrantless searches and seizures or unauthorized recordings. The attorney can also rule out scientific evidence presented by the prosecution if it comes from uncertified lab technicians.
The defense attorney can also point out cases of improper handling, processing, and/or storing evidence. By highlighting these problems with the prosecution’s legal foundation, your defense attorney can boost your chances of winning your case.
It is important to note that each child abuse case is different. Nevertheless, it is always imperative to investigate the accusations thoroughly and fully understand the evidence against you. With the representation of a competent from Phoenix Criminal Attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing that we will have various defenses to these horrible allegations and get you acquitted.
Having child abuse accusations hanging over your head can have serious consequences. Not only are you at an increased risk of criminal punishment such as fines, imprisonment and more, but you are also at risk of losing your reputation and your chance of a successful future. You don’t have to face the prosecution, the judge, and the jury alone.
Contact Us Today
Do you want to defend your rights, clear your name and save your reputation after facing a child abuse charge in Arizona? Phoenix Criminal Attorney will help you get past this nightmare quickly. Contact us or call us at 602-551-8092 today for a free, no-obligation consultation.