How Often Are Parents Falsely Accused of Child Abuse or Neglect?

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connecticut criminal defense lawyerOne of the worst things a parent can face is the claim that they have committed child abuse or otherwise caused their child to suffer harm. In these situations, a parent may not only face criminal charges, but an investigation by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) may result in children being removed from a parent’s home and other issues that will affect a person’s relationship with their child and other family members. Unfortunately, false claims of child abuse or neglect are all too common, and parents who are accused of committing crimes against children will need to understand the best ways to approach these situations.

Increased Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect

Over the past decade in Connecticut, reports of suspected child abuse by teachers or other staff members at schools have increased by 150 percent. This increase is likely due to a change in the law that requires “mandated reporters” to notify the Commissioner of Children and Families or a law enforcement agency if they reasonably suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or is at risk of physical injury or other forms of harm. Mandated reporters include teachers and school employees, as well as coaches, social workers, or counselors.

Mandated reporters who fail to file a report if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been the victim of abuse or neglect may face criminal charges. Failure to report child abuse or neglect is a class A misdemeanor. A person may be charged with a class E felony if they intentionally fail to report abuse or neglect, if they fail to make a report due to gross negligence, if they have actual knowledge of abuse or neglect and fail to make a report, or if they commit multiple violations of their reporting requirements. Because of these consequences, school officials have become more likely to report any suspicions that a child may be at risk of harm, and this has led to an increased number of false reports of child abuse or neglect. In 2019, 87 percent of reports made to DCF of suspected child abuse or neglect were determined to be unsubstantiated.

Parents who are accused of committing child abuse or neglect may face multiple different types of criminal charges. In many cases, these charges involve the offense of injury or risk of injury to a child, which is usually charged as a class C felony. In cases where a parent is accused of committing domestic violence, they may face charges of assault, which can range from a class A misdemeanor to a class B felony based on the extent of harm caused to a child or other family members. However, even if a parent is not charged with a crime, an investigation by DCF can affect them in other ways. They may need to meet a variety of requirements to ensure that they can maintain custody of their children.

Contact Our Connecticut Child Abuse Defense Attorney

If you have been accused of child abuse or neglect, or if you are facing an investigation by DCF, you will need to make sure you are taking the correct steps to protect your rights and address issues related to child custody. At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we can provide you with representation in these matters, including helping you respond to DCF requests or defend against any criminal charges you may face. Contact our Hartford crimes against children defense lawyer today at 860-290-8690 and arrange a complimentary consultation.

Sources:

https://ctexaminer.com/2021/12/17/as-reports-of-child-abuse-and-neglect-jump-150-a-growing-share-are-never-substantiated/

https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_319a.htm

https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_939.htm

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