Fort Lauderdale Child Abuse Attorneys
Compassionately Guiding Clients Through
Family Law Issues
With 45 years of experience assisting Florida residents with a wide range of family law matters, Attorney Alan Jay Braverman has seen how challenging a conflict involving a child can be for the parties involved. Although any legal proceeding is stressful for a parent, issues involving child abuse are especially emotional and may not only drastically affect a child custody arrangement, but also result in a criminal record. Our team of legal professionals is ready to provide you with the responsive legal guidance and vigorous advocacy that you require. Regardless of the nature of your involvement in the situation, we can fight to defend your rights and ensure that you are treated fairly.
Understand Your Rights After Being Accused
of Child Abuse
There are few things more devastating than being accused of or charged with mistreating your child. Although there are many instances in which child abuse reports are valid, there are also plenty of occasions on which someone makes a false report of child abuse, either as a way to intentionally harass the person named or based on false information. Even a charge or allegation can be damaging for a parent’s reputation and can create serious issues for them, especially when it comes to their ability to continue seeing and interacting with their child. The criminal penalties for child abuse are also serious and should be fought whenever possible, especially if the allegations against you are meritless.
The laws that relate to child abuse are meant to protect children while also balancing society’s concern for their wellbeing with a parent’s right to raise their children and engage in discipline as they see fit. An allegation of child abuse will not automatically result in penalties against the defendant. Instead, you will have a chance to present your side of the case and to contradict false information or inaccurate reports. However, you should consult a knowledgeable attorney in the process so they can craft a comprehensive strategy on your behalf. With so much at stake, you should not just assume that the truth will come out on its own.
In determining whether child abuse has occurred, knowing whether the alleged conduct actually constituted child abuse is critical. Florida law defines child abuse as a willful or threatened act that results in a physical, mental, or sexual injury, or something that causes or is likely to cause a physical, mental, or emotional impairment for the victim. There are three different levels of child abuse: Aggravated child abuse, simple child abuse, and child abuse through neglect, in descending order of severity. Aggravated child abuse occurs when the conduct was willful or knowing, such as when a parent cages a child or other egregious situations. Simple child abuse involves situations in which a parent intentionally inflicts a mental and physical injury that would reasonably be expected to result in harm. Finally, neglect of a child happens in situations in which a caregiver’s failure to provide supervision, care, or services for a child results in harm to the child’s physical wellbeing or mental health. A common example would be failing to provide food and nutrition or adequate clothing.
Meet With a Compassionate Attorney
If you are involved in an investigation regarding child abuse or facing charges of child abuse, you should speak to a knowledgeable attorney promptly. Although you may be inclined to speak to the authorities as soon as possible to get the matter cleared up, you could end up saying something that ultimately undermines both your freedom and your parental rights.
Under Florida law, there are clear prohibitions against making a false child abuse claim. Florida makes it a crime to knowingly or willfully make a false report or encourage someone else to make a false report of child abuse. If a person is convicted of making a false claim of child abuse, it is punishable as a third-degree felony with up to five years in prison. There may also be significant fines for each time that a false report was made. The law lists specific reasons that are deemed inappropriate when it comes to making a claim of child abuse, including an intent to harm, embarrass, or harass the target. It also lists financial gain, acquiring custody, or other personal benefits as improper reasons for making a claim of child abuse without sufficient supporting facts.
False accusations of child abuse not only can affect an individual’s career and standing in the community, but also can irreversibly damage the individual’s relationship with the child or children involved. This situation becomes even more dire if there are previous reports of child abuse or domestic violence between the parent and the child. Not all situations involving false claims are immediately clear. The judge may need to investigate the claim before they determine that the accusation is false. If there is any suspicion regarding the veracity of the child abuse allegation, the judge may require supervised visitation or other oversight mechanisms to determine whether the allegations are completely false. Even this type of interference in the parent-child relationship can have serious consequences.
In many situations, a judge may err on the side caution when allegations of child abuse are involved, especially if there is some evidence supporting the allegations. If a judge determines that an allegation of child abuse is false, however, there are serious consequences that the accuser could face, including losing time with the child.
If you have been falsely accused of child abuse, it is critical that you contact a lawyer immediately to protect your rights and freedoms, especially your relationship with your child. It is also important to keep your cool and not react emotionally when confronted with the allegations. Starting a fight or resorting to violence could only bolster the false report. Although you may be tempted to speak to the authorities in an attempt to clear your name, this can be damaging for your position in the long term. Consulting an attorney prior to speaking with the authorities, or letting your attorney speak with them on your behalf, can help ensure that the situation is resolved quickly and that the false report is exposed.
Retain a Knowledgeable Attorney to Protect Your Rights
At Stok Kon + Braverman, we have seen the serious damage that a false report of child abuse can have on the target. We provide responsive and compassionate legal representation, regardless of the situation that you are facing. If you are currently involved in a dispute surrounding child abuse, a dependency proceeding, or another legal matter involving your child, we are here to assist you with asserting your legal rights. We serve people throughout Broward County.