Norfolk Child Abuse Lawyer

Child abuse takes many different forms. This includes directly causing a child to act in a way that renders a child delinquent, or need of services, or abused and neglected as defined by Virginia Code Section 18.2-371. It also includes willingly refusing to render medical care to a child or causing serious injury to the life or health of the child, which includes disfigurement, burns, fractures, mutilation, or maiming.

If you have been accused of child abuse, an experienced attorney could help you build a defense. A Norfolk child abuse lawyer could investigate the accusation and collect evidence to help you fight your case. Speak to a knowledgeable domestic violence attorney to get started building your defense.

What Behavior Constitutes Child Abuse in Norfolk?

Child abuse is defined in Virginia Code Section 16.1-228, which says that any child whose parents or other person responsible for their care creates or inflicts, threatens to create or inflict, or allows to be created or inflicted upon such child a physical or mental injury. It would be an injury by other than accidental means, or they create a substantial risk of death, disfigurement or impairment of bodily or mental functions. That also includes when a child is with a parent or other person responsible for their care during the manufacture or sale of a Schedule One controlled substance.

The statute would also apply when a parent or other person responsible for the child’s care neglects or refuses to provide for the care of the child’s health. It also covers other situations such as when a parent or other person responsible for the child abandons them, or when a parent commits or allows to be committed any sexual act upon the child in violation of the law.

What Happens After an Incident of Child Abuse Is Reported?

After an incident of child abuse is reported, police and Child Protective Services will visit the residents of the parents or guardians to investigate the matter. If an emergency removal is required, the child will be taken from the home, and an emergency-removal hearing will be held in the juvenile domestic relations court.

The order to remove the child may be issued based on sworn testimony before a judge establishing that the child will be subjected to an imminent threat to life or health. They will also consider the extent to which severe or irreversible injury will result if a child will not be removed, and reasonable efforts have been taken to prevent removal from the parents or guardians’ custody and that there is no less-drastic alternative.

Can a Child File for a Protective Order?

In most circumstances, a child cannot file for a protective order, but police officers may file protective orders on behalf of a child, or a child can file a protective order through a “next friend.”

A next friend is a person who may represent another individual who is under a type of disability. In the case of a protective order, that disability would be the fact that it is an emancipated minor who can file a protective order on their own behalf.

Consequences of a Conviction

When there are accusations that a child may have been the victim of abuse, the child may be removed from the home immediately following an emergency hearing before a judge. During that time, the child may be kept from home until the preliminary-removal hearing is held, and the child is formally removed from the home pending criminal charges.

Long-Term Consequences

Child-abuse conviction is as a Class four felony, punishable by between two years and up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $100,000. A person convicted of child abuse will not only have a felony conviction on their criminal history, but they may also face substantial terms of incarceration.

Impact on a Civil Case

Often, the court will stay or delay civil proceedings to get time for the criminal proceeding to conclude because criminal convictions are admissible in civil proceedings. For example, if an individual were convicted of child abuse, that conviction could be used in a later civil proceeding to remove the child from the household or determining that individual’s parental records.

Retain the Services of a Norfolk Child Abuse Attorney

Immediately following an accusation or charge of child abuse, it is best to reach out to a knowledgeable child abuse attorney. A Norfolk child abuse lawyer could help you build a defense against the charges.

The first line of defense against child-abuse accusations is interviewing witnesses to the alleged act, and they can range from family members to social workers. Statements taken from the witnesses, along with any relevant reports, may then be used in any subsequent hearings to present the best possible case.

An experienced attorney will know the prosecutors, judges, and local practices that may prove useful down the line, sparing someone accused of child abuse of a long, drawn-out and stressful process. Call today to discuss your case.