Types of Cases You May Face Regarding Child Abuse Allegations

Child abuse is defined as the physical, emotional, or sexual harm caused to a minor through abuse or neglect.

Types of Cases You May Face Regarding Child Abuse Allegations in New JerseyWhen you find yourself accused of child abuse, it can be very confusing and worrisome. Often, this leads to more than one kind of legal issue, spanning the spectrum from family law to criminal law and child welfare litigation. There are 4 types of cases you may encounter when faced with child abuse allegations in New Jersey: child abuse and criminal charges, DCPP action, parental restraining orders, and child custody determinations. If you find yourself involved in any of these investigations or related legal proceedings, you must contact an attorney as soon as possible to help you.

Child Abuse and Criminal Charges in Elizabeth NJ

Child abuse, according to New Jersey law, is more than what is perceived as typical abuse.  Any physical or mental injuries caused or permitted by the legal guardian are considered abuse.  It includes abandonment, cruelty, neglect, and sexual abuse.  Leaving the child alone or in a place with which they are unfamiliar and around adults they do not know as well as not providing the minimum degree of care is also abuse. If you are financially capable of keeping a child in good health, with access to food and clothing, and a safe home environment but choose not to offer the child those basic needs, it is considered abuse.  There must be a minimum level of care. Excessive corporal punishment or restraining the child, along with depriving the child of normal social interaction. Anyone found guilty of such abuse is convicted of a 4th-degree criminal offense, that is to say, a felony.  The penalties for child abuse are up to 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Can DCPP Charge Me With A Criminal Offense in New Jersey?

The short answer to that is no, they cannot.  They can remove the child from the home either temporarily or permanently (after several hearings and evidence of abuse is presented in court).  Your parental rights could be terminated, but not until the alleged abuse has been proven in court. Every allegation received by DCPP, which stands for the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, will be investigated.  A caseworker will interview the parents, relatives, and other adults in the child’s life.

You will have an opportunity to defend yourself and demonstrate that the charges are without merit.  This is where an experienced lawyer is vital.  There are many hearings and steps to be taken before you lose custody of your child.  The courts prefer to keep families together and work with DCPP to develop a safety plan and offer counseling, parenting, and social programs to improve the home environment.  As long as the plan is followed, and the child is not at risk for further abuse, there is no need to remove the child.  Other times, the abuse is so evident that DCPP has no alternative but to contact the County Prosecutor’s office and file a criminal charge against you, leaving you to face felony charges and the possibility of permanently losing custody of the child.

Parental Restraining Orders Filed in Union County NJ

If you are accused of child abuse by the other parent of the child, a restraining order can be sought to keep you away from them. A child is unable to petition the court for an order of protection so it must be done for them. It is important to keep a cool head and as much as you may want to, not violate the order under any circumstances.  A temporary order will be set for 24 hours, after which another hearing will decide if the order is to be made permanent.

A permanent order means that any contact between the protected persons and the Defendant can never take place, even when the minor children turn 18 years of age.  If the order isn’t lifted no contact will ever be allowed.  If contact is made, the Defendant can be charged with contempt of court, fined, and even given a jail term if the behavior continues.

Child Custody Determinations

Child Custody DeterminationsThe Court makes its decisions based on the child’s “Best Interests” which is defined as the most optimal circumstances for the child.  This includes social programs, parenting classes, or counseling in which the child and/or the family will participate.  This is usually not a request but a requirement.  The judge may make decisions about the frequency and length of visitations and whether or not they are supervised.  They request information about the child’s care, education, and environment which is used to determine with whom the child is most suited.

Obviously, if you are facing charges of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or cruelty, it is possible and even likely that you will lose custody of the child, at least temporarily.  It is important to gather as much evidence and documentation as possible to support your case.

Have you Been Accused of Child Abuse in Union NJ?

Regardless of the nature of the allegations against you, we will work and protect your rights vehemently.  An allegation does not mean that you will lose custody of your child.  You have the prerogative to present your side in court and we will be there for you every step of the way.

Mr. Edward S. Cooper and his staff have experience in handling these and other related family law issues. It will be our pleasure to get you into our office conveniently located in Linden. We serve clients in all nearby areas, including Westfield, Scotch Plains, Cranford, Clark, Mountainside, Berkeley Heights, Elizabeth, and Green Brook.

Call our office at (908) 481-4625, to schedule an initial consultation and we will be more than happy to guide you through the whole process. From the first call, until the resolution of your case, we will be with you every step of the way.