An NYC Child Abuse Lawyer Discusses Child Abuse and Endangerment Charges

Whether you are a parent or some other caregiver, the law imposes a general obligation on you to keep the child in your care safe. Most people understand this as a moral obligation even without the law. Unfortunately, the law makes it easy for people to be unfairly charged with abuse, neglect, or endangerment. Once the accusation is made, you can quickly find yourself engulfed in a confusing process. NYC child abuse lawyer Cody Warner can help you make sense of the situation and find the best path forward. 

What is Child Abuse Under New York Law?

Section 1012 of the New York Family Court Act broadly defines both child abuse and neglect. 

Child abuse occurs when someone inflicts or allows someone else to inflict physical, sexual, or emotional harm upon a person under the age of 18. This can include the following: 

  • Shoving, hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, and other forms of physical violence;
  • Forcing or coercing a child to engage in sexual activity, fondling their genitals, engaging in prostitution, producing pornographic materials, and exposing them to sexual images; or
  • Creating or allowing to be created an environment where there is a substantial risk of physical injury to the child. 

While child abuse involves a person actively doing something harmful to a child, child neglect occurs when a person fails to do something necessary for a child. Under New York law, child neglect is the failure of a parent or caregiver to provide adequate care for a child under the age of 18 that results in physical, mental, or emotional impairment. Child neglect can include the following: 

  • Failing to provide adequate food, water, clothing, shelter, or education;
  • Failing to provide proper supervision or guardianship;
  • Abandonment of a child;
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs to the point of not being able to provide adequate care.

Parents, guardians, and other caregivers can be charged with abuse or neglect in instances where the child has suffered no physical harm but has suffered “impairment of emotional health” or “impairment of mental or emotional condition.” This is defined as “a state of substantially diminished psychological or intellectual functioning,” including the following: 

  • Failure to thrive;
  • Inability to control aggressive or self-destructive impulses;
  • Cognitive delays or impairments; or
  • Habitual misbehavior, acting out, and general ungovernability.

Allegations of child abuse or neglect are very serious and often come as a shock to the person being accused. An NYC child abuse lawyer can help you handle your charges and put them behind you. 

Emotional or Psychological Abuse and Neglect

Allegations involving emotional or psychological abuse can be especially difficult because they often rely upon verbal allegations. Allegations of emotional or psychological abuse can include the following:

  • Berating or belittling the child;
  • Terrorizing or threatening the child to keep them in a constant state of fear; or
  • Humiliation and excessive shaming.

Emotional abuse is a very serious issue, but these allegations are easily made and difficult to prove. In the context of a divorce or other emotionally-charged situation, children are sometimes persuaded to make claims against a parent or other caregiver out of revenge or some other motive intended to hurt the accused. If you have been accused of emotionally abusing a child, you should contact an NYC child abuse lawyer immediately. 

An NYC Child Abuse Lawyer Explains Endangering The Welfare of a Child 

Endangering the Welfare of a Child under New York P.L. 260.10 occurs in the following situations: 

  1. You knowingly acted in a manner that would likely result in physical, mental, or moral harm to a child less than 17 years old; 
  2. You directed or allowed a child to engage in an activity that would involve a substantial risk of danger to their life or health; or
  3. As a parent, guardian, or someone responsible for the care of a child under the age of 18, you failed to make a reasonable effort to prevent them from becoming abused or neglected. 

Endangering the Welfare of a Child is a class A misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to one year in jail if you are convicted. Unfortunately, the statute is very broad, and aggressive prosecutors can charge people even when doing so is not justified. You can be charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child even if the child suffered no actual harm, and what may be considered mental or moral harm or substantial risk to their safety is difficult to define. An NYC child abuse lawyer can develop the right defense strategy for your case.  

Mandatory Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse

New York law Section 413 makes it mandatory for a wide variety of people to report suspected abuse to the relevant authorities, including law enforcement. This includes, but is not limited to, the following people: 

  • Doctors and other medical professionals, including EMTs, dentists, and optometrists;
  • Social workers;
  • Daycare providers, including residential facilities and after-school care;
  • Police officers;
  • Foster care workers;
  • Mental health professionals.

Failure to report suspected abuse is a class A misdemeanor under New York law Section 420. This means that the person faces up to one year in jail for failing to report suspected abuse. In addition, they may also be held civilly liable for any damages that may arise, such as medical expenses and pain and suffering. Failing to report may also jeopardize licenses held by professionals.. 

Anyone Can Report Suspected Abuse 

Many allegations of child abuse come from spouses, former spouses, family members, and others who do not have a legal duty to report suspected child abuse. These reports can be made to Child Protection Services or law enforcement. If they reported alleged abuse to the police or a child protection agency, you should immediately contact an NYC child abuse lawyer

An NYC Child Abuse Lawyer Can Help with CPS and Family Court Proceedings

When reported by one of these “mandatory reporters,” the case is often handled by Child Protective Services or a similar agency. The agency will conduct an investigation, and the process may be referred to the Family Court. The Family Court will convene a hearing to determine whether or not abuse has occurred, whether the child needs to be removed from the home, or what other action should be taken. While this is a civil proceeding, the agency and the court have the ability to refer the matter for criminal charges at any time. 

This means you could face criminal charges as soon as the complaint is filed. Even if you have not been charged with a crime, you should take any allegation of abuse or neglect very seriously; the outcome of the investigation or other proceeding can quickly lead to a criminal case. 

Once the complaint is made, the process moves very quickly, and it can be challenging to know what will happen next. An experienced NYC child abuse lawyer can help you navigate the process, protect your rights, and determine the best way to proceed. 

What to Do if You Have Been Accused of Child Abuse

Many people make the mistake of thinking that the best thing they can do is to cooperate. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Even if no charges have been filed and CPS is handling the matter, the investigators are not on your side and may use what you say against you as the case proceeds. Even seemingly harmless answers to innocuous questions can carry serious consequences in unexpected ways.. Cody recommends that you avoid talking to investigators or the police as much as possible until you have spoken to an NYC child abuse lawyer

How an NYC Child Abuse Lawyer Can Help 

An NYC child abuse lawyer will handle all aspects of your case. Your attorney will be present during interviews to protect you and your children from unfair questions. Your attorney will help you navigate the complexities of the process so that you know exactly what steps will be taken next and what your options are. Your attorney will represent you at all related hearings to ensure that the proceedings are fair. 

If you are already facing criminal charges, your NYC child abuse lawyer will explain the charges and the potential penalties you face. Your lawyer will assess the prosecution’s case and identify its weaknesses while gathering the evidence you need. Your attorney will work with you to develop the right legal strategy for your case.

Contact NYC Child Abuse Lawyer Cody Warner Today if You Have Been Charged with Abuse, Neglect, or Endangerment

You don’t have to face these allegations alone. Cody delivers immediate help to people facing accusations of child abuse or neglect. He can answer your questions, discuss your options, and develop a strategic defense to put your charges behind you. Contact Cody today to schedule a free consultation to discuss how he can take care of your case.