Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse law covers the areas of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse as well as neglect, abandonment, and instances such as parental substance abuse. State law varies as to what is considered child abuse, as well as the recommended sentences if convicted. A local attorney can be the most knowledgeable source when seeking information regarding a particular states law.
12 states have laws exempting parents from neglect charges for inability to pay for the childs care. Exceptions also exist in many states for physical discipline within certain parameters. In states like California, religious caveats also exist, such as the opposition to providing some medical treatments.
Neglect is typically defined as inadequate supply of care to a child with regard to food, shelter, clothing, education, medical care, and other necessities. Physical abuse, as defined in states like New York, includes the actual or potential risk of infliction of intentional injury, which creates a substantial risk of death. Emotional abuse creates an impairment of health caused by a nonintervention or direct action by the adult. Abandonment occurs when the parent or legal guardian willingly stops all communication with and care for a child, though the parent or legal guardian is not stopped from doing so.
Sentences for conviction of child abuse can vary from probation to lengthy prison sentences. In addition, the child may be removed from the home and placed with relatives or in state custody. Parental rights may be entirely revoked by the court for more heinous crimes. Sexual offenders must also register their residence and workplace for the rest of their lives.
There are many attorneys who specialize in the particularly emotional process of law in child abuse. They are consulted by both victims and the accused because of their knowledge of state law and court proceedings. Qualified attorneys can assist victims in recouping monetary damages or help the accused lessen their sentence.