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Child abuse allegations need to be taken seriously — especially when those allegations are coming from the child themselves.

Of course, some child abuse accusations could be a result of an accident or a misunderstanding. In other situations, it may be a part of a larger scheme to discredit you.

No matter the circumstance, our team at Smith Blythe knows that such allegations are often taken out of context or blown out of proportion. Nevertheless, the consequences of these accusations, not to mention a conviction that might follow, are devastating.

You need an effective and aggressive defense team to ensure that things don’t get to that point. At Smith Blythe, our experienced attorneys understand the seriousness of these  allegations and are here to help you through this painful process towards the best possible outcome.

Understanding Child Abuse Accusations and Penalties in Michigan

The first important step to take if you’ve been accused of child abuse is to recognize how serious this accusation is, and how serious the penalties can be if you are convicted.

Take the time to learn about these allegations and understand the consequences you could be facing.

Here’s some information to get you started:

  • Child abuse can be classified either as a misdemeanor or a felony.
  • Child abuse accusations may involve intentional physical or mental injury. 
  • Other instances of child abuse include maltreatment, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation.
  • Placing a child in danger of serious bodily injury is child abuse, even if no harm was caused.

Child abuse is classified into the following four degrees:

1. First Degree Child Abuse

First degree child abuse is when an adult intentionally inflicts severe physical or mental harm on a child. This charge is a felony with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

2. Second Degree Child Abuse

When a person’s failure to act results in serious physical or mental harm to a child OR a person’s reckless act cases physical or mental harm to a child, this is second degree child abuse. This charge is also a felony, but with a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

3. Third Degree Child Abuse

Third degree child abuse consist of a person knowingly or intentionally causing physical harm to a child, and this charge carries a felony with a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison.

4. Fourth Degree Child Abuse

The fourth and final type of child abuse charge is when a person acts in a way that poses an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to a child, regardless of whether the child was in fact injured. This offense is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

Other consequences you may face as a result of this charge include a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation separate from your criminal case, as well as your name appearing on the Michigan Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry if you are found guilty.

Depending on the results of the investigation, your name may appear on this list from a period of 10 years or until your death.

Other steps to start preparing your case

There are many steps you can take to start preparing your defense.

  • First, hire a Michigan child abuse defense attorney with the necessary experience to help you clear your name. Your attorney will then help you organize all essential materials and evidence.
  • Work with expert witnesses, such as psychologists who can give you specific testing. Your attorney will help you determine the type of experts relevant for your case.
  • Create a time-line of the events relevant to the accusation. Be as detailed as you can, and present your time-line to your attorney.
  • Create a witness list of people who can attest to your innocence. The more people you can think of, the better the chance your attorney can use some of them during the trial. Provide each witness’s contact information and full name.
  • Avoid communication with the other party. Your attorney will tell you who you can talk to and when, but avoid discussion of your case with anyone outside of the attorney-client privilege.

Contact a Michigan Child Abuse Defense Attorney

There are many steps you can take to start preparing your defense.

Have you been accused of child abuse? It’s best to consult with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

Our qualified team of child abuse defense attorneys at Smith Blythe has a wealth of experience in successful defense of these cases. Contact us today to get started on your case.

Author Smith Lehman

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Michigan Criminal Sexual conduct Lawyer


Smith Lehman, PC

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1668 S. Telegraph Rd., Suite #200 SBloomfield Hills MI 48302