Being accused of neglecting or abusing a child is an emotional and stressful experience. Whether you have a criminal history or have never been in a courtroom, an arrest for child abuse is terrifying. A criminal conviction can lead to life-changing penalties, including years of imprisonment and other felony-level sanctions. You also face the loss of parental rights in family court.
Guidance from a New Haven child abuse lawyer could be vital to protecting your rights and pursuing a positive outcome in your situation. From initial investigations to the conclusion of your case, your defense attorney can work to uphold your best interests and minimize the penalties you face.
How Does State Law Define “Child Abuse”?
According to Connecticut General Statute §46b-120(5), child abuse involves a child inflicted with injuries—physical or otherwise—by non-accidental means. These charges can also involve a child with a condition resulting from maltreatment. “Maltreatment” in this context can include but is not limited to:
- Sexual exploitation or molestation
- Being deprived of basic necessities such as shelter or clothing
- Emotional mistreatment
- Excessively cruel punishment
Subsection (4) of this same statute states that a child can be considered “neglected” if they are being denied appropriate physical, educational, moral, or emotional care or if they have been abandoned or otherwise allowed to live in conditions that pose a serious risk to their overall wellbeing. Our New Haven attorneys can further explain what conditions may lead to a child neglect or abuse charge under this statute.
Child Abuse Allegations and Investigations in New Haven
In Connecticut, the Department of Children and Families must investigate any credible report of child abuse or neglect as defined above. If a DCF investigation finds evidence to substantiate such an allegation, the DCF may take action. This could include removing the affected child from the custody of their parent(s) or guardian(s).
If child abuse or neglect rises to the level of a criminal act, prosecutors typically pursue criminal charges under one of two statutes. “Risk of injury to a child”—defined under C.G.S. §53-21—is the more serious of the two. This charge can be prosecuted as either a class C or a class B felony, depending on the type of abusive behavior involved in the allegations.
C.G.S. §53-21a addresses leaving a child unsupervised under specific circumstances and failing to report a child’s disappearance. This charge allows prosecution for a class A misdemeanor up to a class C felony, depending on the circumstances. The lawyers at our New Haven office can go into further detail about the implications of each specific child abuse charge during a confidential consultation.
Contact a New Haven Child Abuse Attorney for Legal Help
Criminal charges stemming from child abuse allegations can be immensely detrimental to your personal and professional life, even if they are nothing more than a misunderstanding. Contesting these accusations can be challenging, as you may face both criminal charges and family court proceedings.
Contacting a New Haven child abuse lawyer should be a top priority for anyone facing these accusations. Call Ruane Attorneys today for a private initial meeting about your case.