Child abuse accusations can lead to long, painful, and emotionally-charged cases. But often these accusations stem from misunderstandings, exaggerations, or accidents.
As a parent herself, Shannon Smith understands the emotional toll cases like these can take on your family. And that’s why our she is here to help you through it, with a dedicated and compassionate defense strategy.
In Michigan, child abuse is defined as any type of physical or mental harm to a child as a result of:
In Michigan, the law requires that anyone who comes into contact with the child (teacher, doctor, religious leader, club instructor) and suspects abuse must report it to the proper authorities. Known as mandatory reporters, these accusers can face criminal charges themselves if they fail to report their suspicions.
First-degree charges are the most serious. You are charged with child abuse in the first degree if the state of Michigan believes you have “knowingly and intentionally caused serious physical or serious mental harm to a child.” This is considered a felony and is punishable by up to life in prison.
Child abuse in the second degree includes one of three elements:
• Child neglect or reckless behavior that results in serious physical or mental harm;
• Knowingly or intentionally committing an act that’s likely to to cause serious physical or mental harm, regardless of whether harm actually results; or
• Knowingly or intentionally committing an act that’s cruel, regardless of whether harm actually results.
Second-degree charges are felonies punishable by up to ten years in prison for the first offense
Child abuse in the third degree is when someone knowingly or intentionally causes physical harm or poses a risk of harm that leads to physical harm. It is a felony punishable by not more than two years in prison.
Child abuse in the fourth degree is either child neglect or reckless behavior that causes physical harm posing a risk of harm, regardless of whether physical harm results. Fourth-degree charges are high-court misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail.
Child abuse allegations often stem from misinterpreted or misrepresented medical evidence. Sometimes, a mandatory reporter misunderstands a situation and reports without giving the parents an opportunity to explain. And sometimes an injury is simply the result of an accident, as opposed to physical abuse.
There are several things that can happen if you or your spouse has been accused of child abuse