THE BASICS OF A CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATION
Child abuse allegations can grow from a suspicion alone. We represent parents and family members accused of abusing a child physically or sexually. Child abuse accusations can be handled in different ways. It may start with a CPS investigation. That investigation may lead to police investigation and criminal charge and/or removal of the child from the parent(s) until the court holds a “72 hour hearing.” Often, we are protecting our clients in multiple arenas from multiple players: a CPS investigation, a dependency action in juvenile court and a criminal charge or investigation.
CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATIONS CAN GROW FROM A SUSPICION ALONE
A lawful disciplinary event or even an accident can be viewed as abuse and, if not abuse, then neglect of a child. However, a reasonable amount of force is permitted to discipline a child and accidents are accidents. But often bumps, bruises and “suspicious” marks can be misinterpreted as excessive force. Allegations of child abuse can then be raised, CPS investigation starts rolling, your child is removed in a blink of an eye and even criminal charges may loom. A CPS investigation may be incomplete and yet result in a letter of “founded” for abuse or neglect.
More complex, is when a child’s illness or medical condition is mistaken for abuse. With infants and toddlers, the sad truth is that often false accusations of child abuse start in a doctor’s examining room or hospital emergency room in Western Washington. The child abuse doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Mary Bridge Hospital are often the starting points for child abuse allegations. They may diagnose “concerning for abuse” with incomplete medical information, no information about the family and sometimes without even seeing the child personally! It’s a nightmare scenario for every parent. All they wanted was medical care for their child. Instead they face the risk of seeing them taken away by the Child Protection Services.
Mysterious bruises, marks or other medical injuries that were unknown to parents are often too medically complex for a parent to explain. But a lack of explanation can look suspicious to child abuse doctors and child abuse investigators. Even a parent’s common emotions become suspicious to the accusers. Hospital social workers are quick to call CPS and law enforcement. Children are taken from their parents.
Sexual abuse allegations take root very easily as well. The alleged victim may be an emotionally troubled teen who looks for attention or a very young child who is influenced during a custody dispute. As with physical abuse, a suspicion can trigger multiple layers of investigation and restricted access to the child. When CPS receives a referral for abuse, CPS may have a FTDM (family team decision meeting) or may jump straight to launching ‘dependency’ hearings, sudden shelter care hearings and parents face a long painful battle to get their child back. And criminal charges can run parallel to the dependency proceeding. Suddenly, a parent is in a posture where they feel they must prove their innocence.
In all instances of child abuse investigated by police, the police are required to send the investigation to the prosecutor who will then review the case to determine if charges should be filed. There is a window in time between the police investigation and the prosecutor’s decision to file or not file charges. This is the window in time where a parent is wise to have a child abuse attorney step in.
AS EXPERIENCED CHILD ABUSE DEFENSE ATTORNEYS IN SEATTLE, WE KNOW THE LEGAL STEPS TO TAKE TO WORK A CHILD ABUSE CASE AND KEEP PARENTS AND CHILDREN TOGETHER
Children are often taken into custody based on flimsy evidence and assumptions. We know that a parent’s every action and word is under suspicion by CPS, social workers, doctors and the police; a trusting parent may be too slow to realize that investigation into his/her innocence is not what is actually happening. We know that and your need for protection is immediate. Parents who get immediate legal services from a child abuse defense attorney can start to prepare a smart defense before even a formal accusation is made and before meeting with CPS.
We have helped mothers, fathers, grandparents and guardians to successfully defend themselves against child abuse allegations, both physical child abuse and child sex offenses. We’ve experienced firsthand what situations can cause false claims and how to prevent them from developing into charges. If charges are raised, we will launch our own investigations to uncover the evidence that will disprove the accusation. If you’ve made a mistake during the pressures of parenting, we can address that too to help you to get the system focused on reunifying your family and not punishing you.
WE HAVE SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDED PARENTS ACCUSED OF THE MOST SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD ABUSE
We have successfully defended mothers and father’s accused of “inflicted trauma,” “nonaccidental trauma,” “Munchausens” and sex abuse based solely on suspicions. The child abuse and neglect ball starts rolling before unaware parents even know it. By the time, a parent is aware of the allegation, the decision to take their child has been made and police are called. It is imperative to call experienced counsel immediately. We don’t judge you, they’ve done that; we defend and protect you.
As experienced child abuse attorneys, we have handled the highest stakes and most complex child abuse allegations. We know the courts, prosecutors and judges and what steps to take to keep your family together and your reputation intact. Whether you are facing a dependency proceeding in juvenile court, a CPS investigation or criminal charges, you need multiple layers of protection; some that you aren’t even aware of. There are pitfalls and traps to avoid and we make sure you know them and avoid them.
Contact us now to protect your family and get false charges of child abuse dismissed. 206 933-2414