Whether they are legitimate or not, accusations of child neglect or abuse occur every day. Being accused of harming a child can ruin lives and tear friends and families apart. It is not unusual for tempers to rise in high-pressure situations like a contentious divorce or a child custody dispute, and sometimes, one parent may accuse the other of abusing or harming their children in hopes of gaining leverage in a custody dispute.
If you have been accused of abusing your child, it is important to contact an attorney immediately. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to help guide you through the investigation and potential criminal charges. If the child involved is your own, you should also seek a family law attorney with experience in custody disputes and child abuse investigations to protect your interests as a parent.
Even if you know you are innocent, being the subject of such an investigation is serious and may have substantial criminal and family repercussions that you do not expect. An experienced attorney can protect your rights and put you in the best position to maintain a good relationship with your children and other family members.
Allegations of child abuse typically trigger an investigation by the local Child Protective Services (CPS) agency. This type of investigation may occur if one parent accuses the other of child abuse or if a “mandated reporter” such as a teacher, doctor, child care provider, or mental health professional reports suspected child abuse. CPS may also investigate allegations made by an anonymous reporter.
During an investigation, a CPS caseworker will make an initial assessment to determine whether immediate action is necessary to protect your child from further harm, and this may include a forensic interview of the child in question. If CPS suspects that there are reasonable grounds to believe the allegations, the agency may seek to remove the child from the home. CPS may also work with the police to investigate the matter, and the district attorney’s office will ultimately decide whether to bring criminal charges. If the person accused of wrongdoing is a parent or guardian, the case may also be sent to family court, where a judge will determine how to address the allegations and whether the child will be removed from the home in the long term.
Even if the claims made against you are false, the judge may temporarily suspend child custody arrangements during an investigation to ensure that your child is kept out of harm’s way. You may be able to regain your parenting privileges if you can demonstrate that the allegations are untrue or provide evidence that abuse did not occur, but this is not an easy task. It is best to get an attorney to assist you with this process as soon as you know about the allegations to mitigate the damage and reach of the investigation.
Protecting Your Rights
During a child abuse investigation, you must follow any requirements placed on you by a judge, since disobeying court orders will only hurt your case. You should respond promptly to any questions or requests for information from a CPS caseworker, but only after discussing the matter with your attorney.
Contact a Milwaukee, Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney Today
In situations involving accusations of child abuse, it is important to have an experienced legal advocate on your side who can protect your rights and help you avoid consequences to your family relationships and criminal record. Contact a Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP today to learn about how we can provide the legal help you need. Our criminal and family attorneys work together on many of these matters to ensure our clients have the best possible outcome. Call our office at 414-271-1440 to schedule a consultation.