As a parent, one of the most frightening and devastating experiences is to be falsely accused of neglecting one or more of your children. Unfortunately, thousands of innocent parents are forced to face these demoralizing charges under false pretenses. Whether the accuser is the individual’s child, another family member, a neighbor or stranger, the consequences resulting from a child neglect charge can severely influence the entire course of the accused individual’s life in the future. Once suspicion of neglect has been established, the accused parent is typically charged with the difficult task of proving otherwise. Unfortunately, the Constitutional right of “innocent until proven guilty” is often blurred in cases of alleged child neglect.
Child Protective Services (CPS) typically operates under the assumption that the accused parent is guilty or dangerous and the affected child must therefore be protected from them. However, many individuals accused of neglecting children are innocent, and the allegations often arise because of a misunderstanding, an argument, or even malicious intent. Investigations launched by Child Protective Services can affect your personal, social and professional life; the most effective way to protect yourself from false child neglect charges is to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent your case.
How Neglect Charges Can Affect You and Your Child
Unfortunately, accusations of neglect in children are often malicious attempts to deliberately tarnish an individual’s reputation. These allegations are often made under false circumstances, sometimes spurred by divorce, custody battles, or retaliation by friends and family. In some cases, parents may even file false child neglect charges against one another, in an attempt to discredit the accused parent or to gain advantage in a custody dispute. In some cases, false allegations of neglect may be further facilitated by CPS or law enforcement, who may use deceptive techniques to influence the testimony of a frightened and confused child. When an accusation of child neglect has been made, it is imperative for the accused to avoid speaking with investigators, law enforcement, or agents from CPS without first consulting their criminal defense attorney. By outwardly attempting to defend yourself or accusing another person of dishonest actions, you may only tarnish your credibility, making it even more difficult for your attorney to protect you from additional harm.
Steps to Take After a False Child Neglect Charge
If you have been falsely accused of child neglect, there are specific steps you should take and certain things you should avoid in order to protect yourself from further harm. By following these steps, you can protect yourself from false neglect charges and hold the accuser responsible for his deceptive actions.
Hire a qualified criminal defense attorney
Provide documentation of all letters, conversations, etc., pertaining to your case
Educate yourself on your rights and how the system operates
Check court records and your case file for errors and any CPS opinions concerning your child that are presented as facts
Help your attorney and take an active role in your defense by doing research, asking questions, and keeping your attorney informed
Invite law enforcement or CPS into your home without a search warrant
Speak to anyone about your case without first consulting your attorney
Attempt to contact the child, the accuser, or any witnesses for the prosecution
How to Protect Yourself from False Child Neglect Charges
The most important step to take following a false child neglect charge is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your case. A charge of this kind can have a significant impact on the rest of your life and should not be taken lightly. Being included in a Child Protective Services report can mar not only your familial and social relationships, but can negatively impact your professional status as well. More severe cases of child neglect are reported to the Registry of Abuse and Neglect, and inclusion in this registry can have serious implications for your professional future. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t always operate in favor of the innocent person, making it difficult for falsely accused parents to protect themselves.
Once you have been accused of child neglect, even if those accusations are false, it can be a long road to proving your innocence and an even longer road to permanently clearing your record. False accusations of child neglect can tear a family apart, create an irreparable void between the child and the accused parent, and permanently affect the accused individual’s life. Being falsely accused of child neglect is a frightening and life-altering experience, especially if the false accusations are made by your child or spouse. If you have been falsely accused of neglecting a child, the only way to make sure your rights are protected and your case is effectively represented is to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.