Child Abuse & Juvenile Delinquency Attorneys in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Serious And Dedicated Defense Against Child Abuse And Neglect Charges
Families are complex, and it isn’t always possible to make accurate judgments about a family dynamic from seeing just a snapshot of how parents and children interact. Unfortunately, a “snapshot” is often all it takes to trigger an investigation by child protective services (CPS), which can lead to even bigger legal repercussions.
If you have been charged with child abuse or neglect in Michigan, you are already aware that these charges are serious and could threaten both your freedom and access to your children (or your job, if you work with kids). To give yourself the best chance at a favorable outcome, it is critical to work with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney like those at the West Michigan Defense Team. We have more than 85 years of combined legal experience, with some of our attorneys being former prosecutors, and we take a team approach to every case.
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Understanding The Range Of Charges
Child abuse offenses in Michigan are classified into four groups, or degrees. They include:
Fourth-degree child abuse: Knowingly acting in a way that creates an “unreasonable risk of harm” or causing harm through neglect and reckless action. Usually charged as a misdemeanor.
Third-degree child abuse: Same as above except that the person “knowingly or intentionally” causes physical harm to the child. Usually charged as a misdemeanor but with a longer potential sentence than fourth-degree charges.
Second-degree child abuse: Knowingly acting in a way that is cruel or is likely to result in serious mental/physical harm, or causing harm through these actions. Typically charged as a felony with up to years in prison for a first-offense conviction.
First-degree child abuse: Intentionally or knowingly inflicting serious mental or physical harm on a child. Charged as a felony and could result in a sentence of decades or even life in prison.
No matter what you’ve been charged with, it is imperative to work with a skilled attorney like those at our firm.
The Problems With Mandatory Reporting Laws
Michigan law designates teachers, day care providers, doctors, therapists and other professionals as “mandatory reporters.” They are required to report suspicions of abuse or neglect. This is a noble goal because it sends a message that nearly every adult with professional access to children must be responsible for their well-being.
The problem with reporting mandates is that they can easily lead to overreporting and baseless reports. Mandatory reporters who fail to speak up could face criminal charges as well as professional consequences. That incentivizes many of them to contact CPS at the slightest hint of something that could be wrong, and they become more concerned about their own liability than about the consequences for families who must then be investigated.
If you are under investigation due to the actions of a mandatory reporter, you can contact us to discuss your options even before charges are officially filed.
Defending Your Child’s Rights In Juvenile Delinquency Cases
Our skill criminal defense lawyers understand how much your family means to you. When your child faces criminal charges for unlawful behavior, we are ready to protect what matters most. We take the time to understand the circumstances that surround your child’s case, and create a strategy to defend their rights and preserve their future.
Speak To A Lawyer About Your Case For Free
The West Michigan Defense Team has an office in Grand Rapids and serves clients throughout the surrounding region. You can schedule a free initial consultation by calling or by filling out our online contact form.