Do Child Abuse Allegations and Criminal Charges Go Hand in Hand?
Being subject to a child abuse investigation can make you feel like a criminal. Once allegations against you are made, New Jersey’s child welfare agency (DCP&P) must swoop in and conduct a thorough investigation to establish whether those allegations are founded. You will be questioned, could have some rights taken away, or be separated from your child. Caseworkers and other authorities might treat you like you committed a crime even before the investigation is over, and you will be given little guidance from the agency throughout this process.
The Agency’s Purpose
Although you might feel like a criminal suspect when facing child abuse allegations, it’s important to understand DCP&P is not a criminal agency. Its sole purpose is to ensure the safety of New Jersey’s children. It is concerned with whether you abused or neglected your child but only so it can best keep your child safe from harm.
Where the Authority Lies
The DCP&P does not have the authority to arrest you or file criminal charges against you. Even a substantiated finding of child abuse or neglect does not necessarily mean the parent will be charged with a crime. In light of certain facts, however, the agency is required by law to notify the prosecuting attorney’s office. Examples of situations when the agency must notify the county prosecutor’s office include:
- The parent sexually abused the child
- The parent seriously physically injured the child, or
- The parent killed the child
In these cases, the agency is obligated to involve the criminal court. In the majority of child abuse cases investigated by the DCP&P, however, the parents are not charged with criminal offenses.
Getting the Guidance You Need
If you are facing allegations of child abuse, whether or not you are facing accompanying criminal charges, you need to speak with an experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can explain what will happen in your case and the consequences of a substantiated finding. It’s even more important to work closely with a child abuse defense attorney if you are facing criminal charges as a result of the child abuse allegation. The outcome of the investigation can affect your criminal case, so you need a skilled attorney who can help you make informed decisions about how to face your allegations.
Are you facing allegations of child abuse or neglect in New Jersey? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can help. Our skilled attorneys can advise you of your rights and help you defend yourself against the DCP&P so you can clear your name. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at [email protected], or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.