Michigan Child Abuse And Neglect Attorneys
Welcome to The Kronzek Firm. We are a team of Michigan child neglect and abuse attorneys dedicated to defending parents accused of child abuse, neglect and child endangerment. We fight to keep our clients out of jail, keepi families together, and keepi the government our of your home. We aggressively defend clients against Child Abuse and Neglect charges in Oakland County, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Genessee County, Midland, Jackson, Cadillac, Big Rapids, Grayling, Tawas, and throughout Michigan.
Michigan Neglect and Child Abuse Attorneys
Being accused of child neglect and abuse can have serious consequences. Children’s Protective Services (CPS) may investigate your home and can ask the court to terminate your parental rights. Unfortunately, many people face criminal child abuse charges in addition to a CPS investigation. In Michigan, there are four degrees of criminal child abuse. All four child abuse crimes carry substantial criminal penalties. These charges often involve alleged intentional, knowing, willful, negligent, and reckless acts dealing with maltreatment of children.
Child Abuse Laws in Michigan:
First Degree Child Abuse Charges
First degree child abuse is the most serious Michigan child abuse crime. In order to prove this charge, the prosecutor must show that a parent or guardian who has care, custody, or authority over a child either knowingly or intentionally caused “serious physical harm” or “serious mental harm” to the child.
Serious physical harm requires a physical injury to the child that seriously impairs the child’s health or physical well-being. This includes, but is not limited to: brain damage, skull or bone fracture, subdural hemorrhage or hematoma, dislocation, sprain, internal injury, poisoning, burn, scald, or severe cut. – Serious mental harm requires injury to a child’s mental condition that results in visible signs of impairment to the child’s judgment, behavior, ability to recognize reality, or ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life.
The prosecutor must prove not only that the parent or guardian knowingly or intentionally injured the child, but also the parent or guardian intended or knew that the result of his or her actions would cause serious harm to the child. Often times, when a child has an unexplained serious injury, the parent will be charged with abuse. As skilled defense attorneys, we realize that there are many ways for a child to receive an unexplained injury.
These include certain medical conditions, injury at the hands of another caregiver or sibling, or an accident where the parent was not present. Despite the fact that there are many possible explanations for an unexplained injury, the prosecutor will focus on the parent as the wrongdoer because they are the easiest target. It is important to quickly obtain competent representation to assist in defending against allegations of abuse or neglect. Penalties for a conviction of child abuse in the first degree are the most serious out of the child abuse crimes. People convicted of this crime will have a felony on their records and will face up to 15 years in prison.
Second Degree Child Abuse Charges
Second degree child abuse charges in Michigan stem from allegations of: willfully failing to provide food, clothing, or shelter necessary for the welfare of the child and the failing resulted in serious harm; – committing a reckless act that resulted in serious physical harm to the child; – knowingly or intentionally committing an act likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to the child, even if the child was not actually harmed; or – knowingly or intentionally doing a cruel act to the child (“cruel” means brutal, inhumane, sadistic, or that which torments, even if the child is unharmed by the act)
Penalties for a conviction of child abuse in the second degree are not as harsh as they are for first degree, but they are still quite serious. People convicted of child abuse in the second degree will have a felony on their records and face prison time. For the first offense, they could spend up to 10 years in prison, for a second offense, up to 20 years.
Third Degree Child Abuse Charges
A third degree child abuse charge comes about when the defendant knowingly or intentionally commit an act against a child that caused physical harm. Unlike first and some second degree child abuse allegations, there is not a requisite showing of serious harm to the child. The prosecutor must simply show that the child has been harmed in some way. Third degree child abuse is a felony. People convicted of child abuse in the third degree in Michigan face up to 2 years in prison.
Fourth Degree Child Abuse Charges
Fourth degree child abuse, while still a very serious charge, is the least severe of the child abuse crimes. Fourth degree child abuse requires either that the parent or guardian willfully failed to provide food, clothing, or shelter necessary to the child and that the child suffered physical harm as a result; or the parent or guardian committed a reckless act that resulted in physical harm to the child.
Again, unlike first degree and some of the second degree charges, serious harm is not required in order to show fourth degree child abuse. Child abuse in the fourth degree is the least serious child abuse crime. However, these charges should still be taken seriously. People convicted of fourth degree child abuse in Michigan will have a misdemeanor on their records and face up to 1 year in jail. Often times, if the alleged act is a sexual crime against a child, the defendant will be charged under one of the statutes for Criminal Sexual Conduct rather than child abuse/neglect laws.
Is it Legal to Spank a Child?
Contrary to popular belief, corporal punishment—or punishment by force—is not illegal. However, this does not mean that a parent is entitled to use any amount of violence. The law permits a parent only to use force that can be considered reasonable. If you have been charged with abuse for using excessive force on your child, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force used was not reasonable as discipline.
Effective counsel is imperative for people charged with using excessive force to discipline their child. While it is legal to spank in Michigan, it is not legal to injure a child. Parents often find themselves needing the help of a child abuse defense attorney if they leave marks or bruises on a child after discipline.
A parent with parental rights over a child may not take or keep a child for more than 24 hours with the intent of keeping or concealing the child from the other parent or guardian. It is not considered parental kidnapping if you can prove that the purpose for taking the child was to protect the child from an immediate and actual threat of physical or mental harm, abuse, or neglect.
Children’s Protective Services Defense
In addition to criminal penalties for the crimes enumerated above, a parent who has been arrested for child abuse or child sex crimes risks termination of his or her parental rights. A casual comment made by your child or a neighbor’s kid, a complaint by a student, a patient-doctor relationship gone bad, or a difficult divorce can all result in a potential Children’s Protective Services (CPS) investigation and possible termination of parental rights.
Working together, you and your attorney can typically avoid termination of parental rights. However, this requires a good team effort. Many times parents are so distraught over the situation that they have difficulty focusing on what is really needed to succeed in the litigation. It is possible that you could be acquitted of all criminal child abuse charges and still be pursued by CPS. The reason for this is that the standard of proof in a CPS case is different from a criminal case, and the state is in a very powerful position to take your kids away.
We have been fighting CPS for years, and are aggressive CPS defense attorneys. In any CPS case, you can expect that there will be multiple people working against you, including the prosecutor, the guardian ad litem, the CPS investigator, social workers, and sometimes court-appointed psychologists/psychiatrists and medical doctors. It may seem like the system is completely unbalanced.
Therefore, your attorney must not be afraid to challenge CPS at every stage of the process. CPS workers may use coercive and bullying tactics. They will often threaten to take your children away immediately if you don’t cooperate with the investigation. This should never stop you from consulting an attorney immediately. Contact us about your legal matter today! Call us at 1-866-766-5245.