Defending yourself against child abuse allegations can be overwhelming and stressful. The moment that you become aware that you are under investigation, you should reach out to an experienced Sugar Land criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. Being convicted of child abuse in Texas has severe consequences. In addition to prison time and fines, you may lose custody rights, employment opportunities, and suffer harm to your reputation in the community. Having a child abuse conviction on your record will change your life forever.
With the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, child abuse charges can be beaten. Child abuse can take various forms, and your defense will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. Four common defenses against child abuse allegations in Fort Bend County are listed below.
- The Allegations are False.
Many times, child abuse charges stem from false allegations. Untrue allegations are not uncommon in dysfunctional families or among parents battling for child custody. They also stem from teachers, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, and other “mandatory reporters” who make assumptions about a child’s home life without understanding the whole story.
Whether the false allegation stems from a misunderstanding or straight-up lie, you must fight against it aggressively.
There are various tactics that your attorney can use to discredit a false allegation in a child abuse case, including:
- Finding inconsistencies in the allegations;
- Challenging the lack of evidence; and
- Combating the accuser’s credibility.
If the child is the accuser, exposing their motive to lie is critical. The child may be scared to identify the true culprit or have been manipulated by another adult. Children are highly impressionable, and untrue “confessions” can be coaxed out by parents or investigators.
- The Injury Did Not Stem from Child Abuse
Your defense attorney can argue that your actions did not cause the harm the child suffered. In Texas, if your child is harmed in an accident, it is not considered child abuse. You can only be convicted of child abuse if the child’s injury was intentional or the result of gross negligence or recklessness. Gross negligence means that you knew or should have known the danger involved.
An example of an accidental injury would be if you are playing catch with your son and the baseball hits him in the face. A second example is if you are teaching your daughter how to ride a bike and she falls, breaking her arm after you gave her a push start. These are accidents, not child abuse.
Likewise, it is not child abuse if someone or something other than yourself caused the injury. For example, perhaps the child harmed themselves or got into a fight with a sibling. It is also a defense if the child had a pre-existing health condition, such as epilepsy or brittle bone disease, that caused the harm.
- Parent’s Right to Discipline
In Texas, parents have the right to parent their children as they see fit as long as the discipline is reasonable and does not cause bodily harm. Reasonable means that it is how an ordinary and prudent parent would act in the same circumstances. Bodily injury means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.
Sometimes individuals interpret actions as child abuse even if they did not reach that level. For example, if you lightly spank your child with your hand when they disobey you and the spank leaves no mark or bruise, it is generally not child abuse. According to guidance from the Texas Attorney General, parental discipline is likely to be considered child abuse if the parent:
- Strikes the child above their waist;
- Uses ropes, wires, shoes, sticks, yardsticks, phone cords, and boards during corporal punishment; and
- Causes a bruise, welt, swelling, or medical attention.
- Religious Beliefs
Some religions believe that prayer and not modern medicine should be used to treat illness and injury. In Texas, a parent can use religious beliefs as a defense if their child suffered from an illness or injury and they did not take them to a doctor or hospital for care.
Your Sugar Land Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one is under investigation or has been charged with child abuse, you should reach out to a qualified Sugar Land criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Adam Capetillo is a Fort Bend County native who will protect your rights and provide a skilled and aggressive defense. Call Capetillo Law Firm today for a free consultation.