¡Hola! ¡Hablamos español y estamos listos para ayudarte!

Child Abuse – Child Neglect

Get The Legal Help You Need

Make An Appointment

Child Abuse – Child Neglect

Child abuse or neglect can have devastating effects on children and their families, as can false allegations, under-reporting, and lack of knowledge. Child abuse is often pursued with zeal, and some people are required by law to report cases of child abuse that have occurred. This section contains articles that explain what constitutes legal child abuse, elements needed to prove child abuse allegations, defenses that may be available in some cases, and potential penalties and sentencing options for offenders.

Child Abuse Defenses

Defending yourself against a charge of child abuse can be difficult, especially if it involves a child’s testimony. Combine this with the negative portrayal of child molesters in the media, and it may seem impossible to overcome the harsh realities of an allegation of child abuse.

If you are accused of child abuse – whether physical, emotional, or sexual – a criminal defense lawyer can develop a solid defense strategy and help cast doubt on the prosecutor’s case. Like other crimes, a person accused of child abuse has the same rights as those accused of other crimes, including the right to defend himself against a criminal charge.

While child abuse laws are designed to protect children, the justice system is in place to defend those wrongfully accused. Below are some of the most common (and some not so common) defenses that a person may assert on a child abuse charge:

False Allegations Of Child Abuse

False accusations of child abuse are more common than most people think, especially in dysfunctional families or between parents involved in a difficult battle over child custody. Although sometimes difficult to prove, the best strategy to defend against false accusations of child abuse is to aggressively counterattack the allegations and prove the accuser’s lie or similar unlawful conduct.

Most state child abuse laws do not punish accidents unless the accident results from carelessness or gross negligence. Examples of real accidents can include pushing your child on a bicycle and knocking it down and scratching their knees or unknowingly slapping your child’s hand in the door.

When a child’s injuries are the result of an accident, a person can use this defense to defend against child abuse charges, but the courts are divided prosecute parents who accidentally injure a child by negligent action (such as leaving a sleeping baby in a car alone on a hot day).

The Injury Is A Result Of Something Other Than Child Abuse

Sometimes parents are falsely accused of child abuse on the basis of non-accidental situations, such as when a child fights with another child and is injured or when a child has a pre-existing medical condition that contributes to her injuries. For example, a type of disease called “brittle bone disease” was used as a defense to show that his injuries resulted from a disorder that causes a child’s bones to break easily and not as a result of child abuse.

Parent’s Right To Discipline

Parents are generally free to discipline their children as they see fit, as long as the discipline is reasonable and does not cause bodily harm. However, the question of how a parent disciplines a child (for example, by spanking or threatening to spank) is often the subject of many cases of abuse. In certain circumstances, a parent or member of the “loco parentis” (such as a teacher) can invoke “parental privilege” and claim that he had the right to reasonably discipline a child under their authority. However, if a child’s injuries are more serious than minor bruising due to discipline, the parental privilege may not apply.

Religious Beliefs Or Exemption

While it is difficult to understand the thinking of a child who dies from an easily treatable disease, parents can request an exemption for child maltreatment for religious reasons when a child dies due to a parent’s inability to seek medical care for their sick child. Although controversial, this religious exemption is a defense in all but a handful of states. It allows parents to escape accusations of child abuse if they choose to pray for their sick children rather than taking them to a doctor.

Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy

In rare cases, a person accused of child abuse can invoke the little-known defense called Munchausen Syndrome by proxy (MSBP). MSBP describes incidents in which a babysitter, usually the mother, lies or promotes illnesses in her children to attract attention or sympathy to themselves. This defense generally requires proof of psychological or medical data.

There may be other defenses available depending on the circumstances in your particular case. It is wise to speak with a criminal defense lawyer who can help you understand your rights with respect to child abuse laws in your state.

Child Abuse Penalties And Sentencing

Sentencing for child abuse and neglect cases is often difficult for everyone involved – especially since child abuse cases are often widely publicized and have the potential to stigma on the family is great.

In most states, child abuse can be charged as a crime or a less serious offense depending on the circumstances. The most serious child abuse cases can be punished with life imprisonment, while the least serious cases are considered serious crimes with no possibility of imprisonment. The punishment will generally be more severe if the offender has a previous criminal record of child maltreatment and considerably reduced if there is no previous record.

For sentencing purposes, a person accused of child abuse may plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. In many cases, the conviction will usually include probation or a prison sentence of up to five years. Sentencing in other, more serious cases may include a longer prison term. Other possible sanctions and/or consequences may include:

  1. Lifetime obligation to register as a child sex offender
  2. Termination of parental rights
  3. Ruined reputation
  4. Criminal record
  5. Supervised access to the child
  6. Physical or actual loss and enjoyment of a child

Continual involvement with a child protective services agency Those who do not report child abuse or neglect also faces sanctions and consequences in some states with mandatory reporting laws. In these states, if a person has reason to suspect that someone is abusing a child, they should report it through a hotline or a law enforcement agency. Failure to report such cases in a timely manner is considered a misdemeanor in most states and may result in fines, jail time, or both. It is usually best to work with a criminal defense lawyer to reduce or lessen the severity of the penalties and sentencing in all cases involving child abuse.

Ask a Question,
Describe Your Situation,
Request a Consultation

Call (954) 522-9997 or fill out the short form below. We will usually respond within 1 business day but often do so the same day. Don’t hesitate, your questions are welcome.

Main Contact Form

* Required Fields

Your Information Is Safe With Us
We respect your privacy. The information you provide will be used to answer your question or to schedule an appointment if requested.
Questions or Schedule An Appointment? Click to Call (954) 522-9997

Why Choose The Law Offices of R. David Williams, P.A. ?

  • Confidential Case Assessment - During your confidential case assessment we will listen to the details of your case, and formulate a strategy to defend you as well as possible.
  • Highly Rated & Reviewed - Highly rated on Google, with a 5 star rating on respected legal site AVVO.
  • Focused Legal Practice - Our Attorneys have been helping individuals like you Navigate the law for over 25 years. Criminal Law is our top priority, let us make you and your case part of that focus.
  • Highly Responsive - We pride ourselves in fast response time when communicating with our clients. We will never let your questions or concerns go unaddressed.
  • Caring & Compassionate - This isn’t just a Criminal Charge, this is your life. We understand that, and our dedication to our clients helps get them back to their lives as efficiently as possible.
  • Bilingual - At the Law Offices of R. David Williams, we have staff that are fluent in English and Spanish, ensuring that each client gets proper representation.
  • Straight Shooters - Your situation requires honesty from both us and yourself. We will tell you what you need to know, not necessarily what you want to hear. Our approach focuses on efficiency and speed to resolve cases as quickly as we can.
  • No Case Too Difficult - This is where tenacity and knowledge of the law matter. We do what is necessary, even in complex cases.

  • Free Consultation – We provide free consultations, during which you can discuss the case and explore your legal options with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
  • Highly Rated – Our firm has accumulated numerous 5-star reviews on Google and the legal site Avvo.
  • Personal Attention – With a background in psychology, David Williams is uniquely positioned to help you with your legal needs while providing individualized attention and support.
  • No Case Is Too Big or Small – We handle everything from traffic tickets to grand theft, drug charges, and other major felony offenses. Regardless of the charge, you will have an advocate by your side when you choose The Law Offices of R. David Williams to represent you.
  • Tailored Representation – We don’t treat clients as numbers. To us, they are unique individuals who require legal representation that is tailored to their particular case. Thus, our firm customizes services based on your circumstances and needs.

Our Core Values

Our core principles have always been a paramount attraction to our clients.

Highest Standards

Great Service

Professional Team


Questions or Schedule An Appointment? Click to Call (954) 522-9997

Real Clients, Real Testimonials

“Not gonna lie. I was scared at first – of course w anything w laws it’s very scary. But David was very professional , honest and true to his word. I felt so much better and confident that he was definitely gonna help me. And he did !! I’m truly grateful for him and his staff- his assistant Jessica is very warm and kind and is always on top of everything. Thank you guys so much!”

- Maria Cabrera -

View More

Professional Associations

Contact A Broward Criminal Attorney

Most importantly, David Williams makes it a priority to give you personalized service and attention with regard to your criminal case. Call our office at your convenience for a free consultation. We will schedule a personal consultation at your convenience with the attorney to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your criminal case in Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach County. David Williams will provide you with the defense and counseling that is required to have a successful outcome for your criminal case.

David Williams prides himself on providing personal attention with regard to all aspects of your criminal or traffic matter. David Williams will provide you with a fair fee for the work required and will extend a payment plan that is suitable to your needs for your criminal matter.

Ask a Question,
Describe Your Situation,
Request a Consultation

Call (954) 522-9997 or fill out the short form below. We will usually respond within 1 business day but often do so the same day. Don’t hesitate, your questions are welcome.

Main Contact Form

* Required Fields

Your Information Is Safe With Us
We respect your privacy. The information you provide will be used to answer your question or to schedule an appointment if requested.

Law Offices of R. David Williams, P.A.

15 SW 10th St., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315Questions or Schedule An Appointment? Click to Call (954) 522-9997

Contact Us

Law Offices of R. David Williams, P.A.

Hours of Operation

Mon - Fri : 9 am - 5 pm
If you have been recently arrested or charged with any criminal offense in South Florida, you need an aggressive, experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you.

After-hours support is Now Available!

We are thrilled to introduce our after-hours answering service, which ensures prompt response to all of your queries regardless of the time. Our dedication to your satisfaction extends beyond regular business hours. Please feel free to contact us anytime; we will be more than happy to assist you.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Skip to content