Being accused of child abuse or neglect of a child is devastating and life destroying, and the allegations can not only impact child custody and family law matters, but lead to time in prison, hefty fines and a felony record. Charges are often false, but the accused will still have to undergo an intensive investigation and face the removal of the child from the home.
If you are a parent or relative who has been accused of child abuse or child neglect, it is important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. The same goes for a parent who is fearful that his or her child has been abused or neglected. No matter what your situation, the compassionate and experienced attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., are here to help.
Our Illinois child abuse and family law attorneys provide our clients with personal attention and aggressive representation. It is critical that the situation be handled quickly and fairly, especially if accusations of abuse or neglect are made in a divorce, custody or other family law matter.
We offer a free consultation, so contact us today to discuss your situation with one of our DuPage County child abuse and neglect lawyers.
In Illinois, the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, 325 ILCS 5/, defines an abused child as a child whose parent, immediate family member, or person responsible for the child’s welfare inflicts or allows to be inflicted physical injury to the child that causes disfigurement, impairment, or death. This includes excessive corporal punishment, commission of torture, or the sale or transfer of a controlled substance to a child under the age of 18.
The law adds the crime of criminal sexual abuse, which is the commission of a sex offense against the child by the parent, relative, or caregiver. And it addresses child neglect, which occurs when a parent or caretaker fails to provide adequate supervision, food, clothing, shelter or other basics for a child.
Illinois has mandatory reporting laws requiring people who have reasonable suspicion that child abuse or neglect is occurring to report it to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). There is an extensive of list people who legally must report their suspicions, including physicians, teachers, medical/hospital personnel, substance abuse counselors, domestic violence program personnel, child care workers, and spouses and other family members. A report could be made by someone who may not even know you.
Once a report is made, an investigation must begin. While a DCFS investigation is not a criminal investigation, the DCFS and the police often work together and investigate the same claims to see if the child is in danger. Investigators can take protective custody of an endangered child and immediately remove the child from the home.
After determining whether the child is in immediate danger, the investigator will gather evidence by visiting the home and places where the abuse may have happened. The investigator will also interview relevant people, including:
Anything parents say during the investigation can be used against them and have potentially devastating consequences in a child custody or visitation case. It may also lead to criminal charges against the accused.
A conviction for child abuse or neglect is serious and will damage your employment and reputation, and it could lead to jail time and fines. Punishment depends on the seriousness and circumstances of the offense.
For example, child neglect is usually a misdemeanor, and may lead only to probation, while child abandonment is a Class 4 felony, with a subsequent offense after a prior conviction becoming a Class 3 felony. A charge of aggravated battery of a child or predatory sexual assault of a child is a Class X felony, with a minimum sentence of six to thirty years in prison.
Often, parents or relatives charged with abuse and neglect are wrongly accused and may be shocked to be facing such a charge. If you have been wrongly accused of child abuse or neglect, we will make sure that your side of the story is heard. If your spouse or the other parent of your child is making false allegations, we will make sure this works against them.
There are several approaches to defending against charges, including showing that . . .
If you have been accused of child abuse or neglect, the charges are serious. The law says that you are innocent until proven guilty, so you need to have the best legal assistance available.
The seasoned and experienced Illinois child abuse defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., know the law, the courts and the judges, and are aware that many times accusations of child abuse are false. We closely examine evidence and aggressively defend clients who are charged with child abuse and neglect.
We offer a free consultation to examine your individual situation and determine the best road for your defense. Don’t delay. Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., online or call us for your free consultation.