Richmond Child Abuse Lawyer

Behavior that constitutes child abuse may include physical assault and battery, neglect, or any conduct by a parent, guardian, or adult responsible for the care of a minor that results in severe injuries to their life or health. Serious injuries resulting from child abuse may include disfigurement, fractures, burns, lacerations, mutilation, maiming, forced ingestion of dangerous substances, and life-threatening internal injuries.

The Virginia Assembly does not provide an exhaustive list of possible injuries but gives officials these examples to guide their judgment regarding what could be considered a serious injury in child abuse cases. Law enforcement takes allegations of abusing a minor seriously. Therefore, you should reach out to a knowledgeable domestic violence attorney if you are facing charges such as these. An experienced Richmond child abuse lawyer could help you build a case in your defense.

Penalties and Long-Term Consequences

State law establishes that any person who commits physical assault and battery to a family or household member, including children, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. For a first assault and battery offense, the accused individual may face Class 1 misdemeanor charges. If the individual has a third or subsequent offense within 20 years of the first, they could receive a Class 6 felony charge.

In Virginia Code §1-8.2-371.1, any parent, guardian, or person responsible for the care of a child under the age of 18 who willfully act, omits, or refuses to provide necessary care for the minor’s health, or who causes or permits serious injuries to their life or health can be found guilty of a Class 4 felony.

Willful acts or omissions include any parent, guardian, or adult responsible for a minor acting or engaging in conduct that demonstrates a reckless disregard for human life. This offense may be charged as a Class 6 felony under the abuse and neglect statute.

The potential immediate criminal consequent associated with child abuse may include losing the right to care for the child, having to take anger management classes, being found guilty of a felony offense, spending time in jail, or losing the right to possess a firearm. All of these can be enforced immediately by officials whenever an individual is arrested or convicted of child abuse.

The long-term consequences associated with a child abuse conviction can be losing a job, being ineligible for certain employment opportunities, a strained relationship with their child, and emotional turmoil among all the parties involved. A Richmond child abuse attorney could work to minimize the potential consequences that a defendant may be facing.

What Happens After an Incident of Child Abuse is Reported?

After someone reports an incident of child abuse, the Department of Social Services arrive at the alleged location of the incident and investigate to decide if the child needs to be removed from the parent or the person responsible for them. Law enforcement also may respond to determine the validity of the allegation and if they should make an arrest.

Law enforcement may contact the parent or guardian to find out if they want to provide a statement. Authorities also may interview the child to establish what steps they should take moving forward. If an arrest is deemed appropriate, police officers issue an arrest warrant. Depending on the accused individual’s record and the allegations against them, they may be issued a bond as they await their court date.

Criminal Cases and Civil Cases

A judge in a civil case may consider the outcome of criminal child abuse court proceedings when determining the degree to which the defendant can be involved in the minor’s life going forward. Evidence and any other convictions can be heard, and in certain situations, the judge may dismiss a case based on that information. However, the result of a civil case involving child abuse typically does not impact criminal court proceedings. A Richmond lawyer with experienced litigating child abuse cases could assist a defendant in both civil and criminal court proceedings.

Exceptions to Child Abuse Law

There is a religious caveat that states that any parent, guardian, or adult responsible for the care, custody, or control of a minor, who, in good faith, is being treated solely by spiritual means in accordance with the practices of a recognized religious denomination, shall not for that reason alone be considered in violation of state law. This means that certain religions that do not use or recognize Western medicine cannot be found in violation of state law solely because they did not take the child to a medical doctor.

In abuse and neglect cases, an individual behaves in a way opposite of or refuses to act in a child’s best interest. In certain cases, if the adult responsible for the child refuses to act for spiritual or religious reasons, this person cannot be found in violation of the law based on that fact alone.

Seek the Services of a Richmond Child Abuse Attorney

If you are facing allegations of abusing a minor, you should contact a Richmond child abuse lawyer because they could act on your behalf to increase your chances of achieving a more desirable outcome. Overall, you should hire an attorney who has dealt with such cases before to protect your rights, reputation, and family. To learn how an attorney could help you, schedule an initial case consultation.