What Do I Do If Accused of Child Abuse in Orange County?

  • Post last modified:July 9, 2024

Most child abuse claims are made out of the manipulation of a co-parent or due to a child’s overactive imagination. And it is among the worst crimes one can be charged with in California. It is a severe crime with strict penalties and lengthy guidelines.

While the law protects children, it also protects parents and caregivers that can be wrongly accused. A conviction can ruin your relationship with the child and others. Without a Long Beach criminal justice attorney, your rights and freedoms may be abused.

How is Child Abuse Defined in California?

Before figuring out what to do regarding an accusation, it is crucial to understand the legal definition of the offense. First of all, the victim must be under the age of 18. Secondly, you need to have severely punished them or inflicted severe bodily harm. Examples of child abuse are:

  • Using a belt to punish a child
  • Punching a teenager as a form of punishment
  • Striking a child hard enough to leave a mark

If a teacher, a social service provider, or a child care worker suspects you of abusing a minor, they have a mandatory obligation to report it.

What Happens if a Parent Makes False Accusations in a Child Custody Case?

Often than not, a parent can falsely accuse the other of child abuse to bar them from getting visitation or custodial rights in a California divorce case. If it is established that they made false accusations of limiting your parental rights maliciously, the family court has powers to limit or prohibit their rights instead.

The court can exercise their powers if they find proof that they:

  • Made a report of child abuse
  • Knew the allegations were false
  • Intended to interfere with your rights with regards to the child

If you feel like your co-parent is conspiring to deny you your rights through child abuse allegations, a child abuse attorney in Long Beach, CA, can help.

How Can I Use the Accuser’s Reputation/Credibility to Defend Myself?

If the accuser’s only evidence is their word of mouth, you can use various approaches to dispute it. Remember that their word is enough to implicate you, and you have to show why they should not be believed. You could claim that the accuser:

  • Has been tricked into believing something untrue
  • Didn’t make the accusation in the first place
  • Has been coached to raise the allegation
  • Is suffering from false memory
  • Is mistaken about the identity of the actual offender
  • Is mistaken about what happened
  • Is lying and demonstrate their motive to lie
  • Is a victim of group psychosis
  • Is not the actual accuser

Note that you can bring up your claims respectfully without undermining your child or the other parent. And you can use text messages, emails, social media posts, and witness testimonies to question the accuser’s testimonies.

How Can I Boost My Own Credibility and Reputation in a Child Abuse?

Stating your own case is an excellent way to beat false allegations of child abuse. You have to make yourself believable and ensure that your statements are credible. Your credibility can be demonstrated by:

  • Passing a psychological evaluation conducted by a psychiatrist who is an expert witness
  • Obtaining witness statements that corroborate your own, e.g., an alibi
  • Passing a polygraph or lie detector test not administered by law enforcement
  • Being consistent with your statements
  • Telling the truth
  • Obtaining character witness statements

Can Attacking Evidence Sufficiency Relieve Me of Child Abuse Charges Against Me?

Another excellent approach to defense is scrutinizing the evidence gathered by law enforcement and the child protective services (CPS) during the investigations. The child abuse case can be undermined if you notice any of the following:

  • Gaps in the investigations
  • Contradictions and inconsistencies by the author of the report
  • Inconsistencies and contradictions by witnesses
  • Prejudice or bias on the part of the investigator or witness
  • Confirmation bias by forensic interviewers, licensing investigators, social workers, and police officers

You can counter faulty evidence with your own witness statements, evidence, and chronology of events. A Long Beach child abuse attorney has the expertise to help you with this.

What Do I Stand to Lose if Convicted of Child Abuse in California?

Child abuse is one of the few wobbler offenses in California. This means that the charges can be brought as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on:

  • Your criminal history, if any
  • The facts of the alleged offense

If charged as a felony, a conviction might earn you:

  • A fine of up to $6,000
  • 2,4, or 6 years in jail
  • Additional four years in jail if you have a felony child abuse conviction on your records

With a misdemeanor charge, you risk:

  • A fine of up to $6,000
  • Up to a year in a county jail

The best way to avoid the above harsh consequences is to invest in an experienced and skilled Long Beach child abuse lawyer. They can represent you in court and negotiate for the best possible outcome.

Under What Conditions Can a Child Abuse Convict Get Probation?

If your Long Beach criminal defense attorney represents you well enough, the judge can substitute a jail sentence with probation. It can be formal probation for felonies or summary probation for misdemeanors. A sentence of probation might come with the following conditions:

  • Successful completion of the child abuser’s treatment program, which is usually one year long
  • A protective order that may prohibit any contact with the victim, or further threats or violence against the victim
  • Mandatory minimum probation of three years
  • Submission to random drug testing if the offense was committed while drunk or drugged

Compassionate Representatives Fighting for Your Rights and Freedom

A lot might be at stake if you are accused of child abuse in California. Whether you are a parent or a caregiver, you stand to lose so much. But, with the help of a skilled child abuse attorney, you can build a defense approach that is uniquely applicable to your case, which can relieve you of all charges.

The lawyers at the Law Offices of Jerry Nicholson can do everything to keep you out of jail. Talk to us today for guidance throughout the legal journey.