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Child Abuse Charges During the Pandemic

June 30, 2020 Criminal Law and Procedure

There are numerous reports in the news concerning the rise in domestic violence that has occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of Michigan’s lockdown order. Many worry that an upward trend in child abuse cases could be made worse as a result of the pandemic. It may take some time for these cases to come to light, but statistics aside, you need to take immediate action if you’ve been accused of child abuse. The best thing you can do is to contact an Ann Arbor domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible.  

Understanding the Charges You May Be Facing

Many people are shocked when they are charged with child abuse because they don’t realize how easily an allegation can lead to charges. This is because people don’t understand the laws that protect our children. Under Michigan law, there are four degrees of child abuse charges: 

  • First-degree child abuse: Knowingly or intentionally causing serious physical or mental harm to a child.
  • Second-degree child abuse:

(1) Causing serious physical or mental harm by way of omission.

(2) Recklessly causing serious physical or mental harm. 

  • Third-degree child abuse:

(1) Knowingly or intentionally causing physical harm to a child.

(2) Intentionally committing an act that poses an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to a child and results in physical harm to the child. 

  • Fourth-degree child abuse

(1) Causing physical harm to a child by omission or through a reckless act.

(2) Intentionally committing an act that poses an unreasonable risk of harm or injury to a child regardless of whether it results in physical harm to a child.

Child Abuse Charges Do Not Require Intent…or Harm

Reviewing the degrees of child abuse above, it is important to give careful consideration to the element of intent. First, understand that you can be charged with child abuse even if you did not intend to commit abuse. The term “omission” basically refers to neglect and can result in a second or fourth-degree child abuse charge. In other words, you can be accused of neglecting your child even though you had no intention of doing so.

Second, you can be charged with child abuse as a result of an action or behavior that someone else considers “reckless,” which would apply in situations where you did not intend to cause any harm. In fact, you can be charged with fourth-degree child abuse even if your “reckless” actions did not actually result in harm.

The Consequences of Conviction Are Severe

Here are the potential penalties you face if convicted of child abuse or neglect: 

  1. First degree: a felony charge that carries a potential life sentence.
  2. Second degree: first offenses are punishable by up to 10 years in prison, subsequent offenses up to 20 years.
  3. Third degree: up to 2 years in prison.
  4. Fourth degree: a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. 

In addition to imprisonment, keep in mind that a conviction for child abuse could have a devastating effect upon your reputation and result in considerable embarrassment. 

Contact an Ann Arbor Domestic Violence Attorney at ArborYpsi Law

There is no good time to deal with a child abuse or neglect charge, but the challenges are even greater as a result of the pandemic. The good news is that you don’t have to face your charges alone. To schedule a free consultation, contact us at 734-883-9584 to discuss your case and how we can help.