Maryland Child Abuse Lawyer
A lot of different behaviors can constitute child abuse. There are multiple statutes that address the issue of child abuse. For instance, one focuses on the abuse of a child as far as physical injury. There is a separate section that deals with sexual abuse of a child. There are also some other related offenses like neglect. When talking about child abuse, it is usually physical child abuse or sexual child abuse.
Regardless of the details, these types of allegations are taken very seriously by law enforcement and the courts. Should you find yourself facing charges, a Maryland child abuse lawyer will be an invaluable asset as you work to build a defense and mitigate the damages. Contact a skilled domestic violence attorney who can help you to navigate your case.
What constitutes physical abuse is very straightforward. It means that the child has sustained a physical injury, and presumably that physical injury was inflicted by the defendant. But, not everyone who might physically injure a child is going to be charged with child abuse. For a defendant to be charged with child abuse it means that they have to be in some sort of intimate relationship with respect to the child.
Under the law, it could be a family member or someone related to that child by blood or by marriage, including a mom, dad, stepmom, stepdad, and grandparent. All those people meet the definition of a family member. A person can also be charged with child abuse if they are a household member, meaning a person who is living with or is regularly present in a home of the child.
There is also sexual child abuse. The defendant has to have the same kind of relationship with that child and be either a family member or a household member, but the state in a case of sexual abuse would have to prove that there had been some sort of sexually inappropriate contact with that child.
There are different levels of child abuse law violations in Maryland. There is first-degree child abuse and second-degree child abuse. Second-degree child abuse includes people who either have permanent or temporary care of custody regarding a minor. The person does not have to be related to a child by blood or marriage to be charged with the abuse of that child. For example, teachers or babysitters can be charged with this because they have temporary care or custody of a child.
What to Expect After the Initial Report
A lot of different things could happen once an official allegation of child abuse is made. Generally, there is either a third party who has contacted the police or the child may have made a disclosure. That will then launch an investigation, which usually involves not just law enforcement, but also the Department of Social Services (DSS) sometimes working together.
It has become very common in most jurisdictions for the DSS to have some sort of child advocacy center. Therefore, someone who has been accused will be facing a multi-agency grouping that includes DSS, law enforcement, social workers, and volunteers all involved in the investigation and advocacy for child victims. An investigator who would have had additional training will properly question the child to avoid leading questions or to have the child modify their answers based on what they think the adult wants them to say. It can be complex, because the case may revolve around a very young child.
Under Maryland law, based on the child’s age, it is possible that the child never has to testify so long as the investigators follow the correct procedures. They would be allowed to testify as to what the child said or the child testimony comes through a recording of when that child was questioned by the police. Also, after an instance of child abuse is reported, it is common for the child to have to undergo some sort of physical examination that could also involve proof of any sort of sexual abuse.
How a Maryland Child Abuse Attorney Can Help
Someone who has been accused of abusing a child ought to contact a Maryland child abuse lawyer as soon as possible. It is important to hire an attorney who has familiarity and experience with these exact kinds of cases, because these are complex cases.
The accused needs to have an attorney who fully understands the process of that initial intervening of the child. There are some enormous heresy exceptions in child abuse cases. There will be an entire hearing devoted to whether or not a recorded interview of that child would be admissible as evidence. This is something that should be taken on by a child abuse attorney in Maryland that has familiarity with the laws and the different evidentiary issues that relate specifically to child abuse cases.