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Common defenses to child abuse charges

Back in November, we discussed how an accusation that you have committed child abuse, including based on an anonymous tip, can result in a jail sentence and the loss of your parental rights over your children. This is because the law seeks to protect children from physical, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of their parents or other adults.

This is an important and noble goal, but what happens when you have been falsely accused of abusing your son or daughter? How can you defend yourself against the power and determination of the prosecution and clear your name?

Different states have various defenses to child abuse charges, but here are some of the most commonly allowed claims.

  • False Allegations. Perhaps the most basic defense to the charge is to deny that you committed child abuse. You may have evidence that contradicts the prosecution’s claims that abuse occurred.
  • The injury was due to an accident. Most states do not punish parents for their children’s accidental injuries, unless the accident was caused by recklessness or gross carelessness. A true accident can include unwittingly knocking over your child’s bicycle during a riding lesson.
  • Parent’s right to discipline. The law generally defers to parents on how to discipline their kids, as long as the discipline is reasonable and causes no bodily injury beyond minor bruising.
  • Pre-existing medical condition. Sometimes, a child with a condition that makes them vulnerable to serious injury gets hurt, and his or her parent winds up accused of causing the injury.

Child abuse is a highly sensitive issue, because it is a serious problem in society. Yet, just as with any other crime, no one should be wrongly convicted, or forced into an arduous plea agreement, when they did not do what the authorities claim.

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