An experienced child abuse lawyer understands the catastrophic impact of abuse. Child abuse not only scars children physically and emotionally– it can permanently tear families apart. At James E. Crawford & Associates, we help children and families address child abuse issues by providing both emotional support and tireless legal representation.
What Is Considered Child Abuse?
Child abuse comes in many forms and isn’t always easily recognizable. It can include:
- Physical abuse, causing:
- Broken bones,
- Cuts and lacerations,
- Bruising and welts,
- Mutilation or disfigurement, or
- Internal injuries.
- Emotional and verbal abuse, such as:
- Name calling,
- Vulgar language directed at the child or others,
- Belittling and degrading a child, or
- Other serious emotional trauma.
- Sexual abuse, such as:
- Exposing a child to pornographic materials,
- Sexual assault or rape, or
- Other lewd behavior.
- Neglect, including:
- Leaving a child unattended or improperly supervising a child,
- Improperly feeding and clothing a child,
- Providing unsafe housing,
- Providing inadequate medical care,
- Educational neglect, or
- Otherwise ignoring a child’s needs.
How Can I Protect A Child From Further Abuse?
As a parent, your child’s safety and well-being are a top priority. If you suspect child abuse, you should:
- Immediately report your concerns to either your law enforcement agency or department of social services,
- Seek necessary medical attention for the child,
- Photograph the child’s physical injuries,
- Seek counseling and other psychological services for the child, and
- Contact a child abuse lawyer for information about protection orders, child visitation and custody, and other important issues.
Protection and Peace Orders Against Abusers
A protection or peace order is an important part of keeping your child safe from further abuse. You are eligible for a protection order if the abuser is a family member. Peace orders are issued against other people, such as abusive neighbors.
If the court approves your request for a protection or peace order, you can prohibit your child’s abuser from:
- Harassing or otherwise communicating with your child,
- Being in the same geographic location as your child,
- Entering your child’s school, home, or workplace, and
- Owning or possessing firearms.
The judge can also require the abuser’s participation in a mental health or substance abuse program. And, if you receive a protection order, the judge might award temporary custody and financial assistance in the order. If the abuser violates the terms of the order, he or she faces additional criminal penalties.
A child abuse lawyer will help you draft the appropriate documents, file them with the correct Baltimore courts, and present a compelling case against the abuser. If you need help obtaining a protection or peace order against your child’s abuser, contact a James E. Crawford & Associates immediately.
Child Custody and Visitation
If your child’s abuser is a parent or legal guardian, you can also request a temporary custody or visitation order. Custody decisions are always based on the best interests of the child– and Maryland’s courts can deny or seriously limit an abusive parent’s custody rights. Sometimes, an abusive parent will be limited to supervised visitation at a neutral location. Other times, they might completely lose their visitation rights.
If there is already a child custody or visitation order in place, a child abuse lawyer can help you modify this order. However, unless your child is in clear and present danger, you should never violate the terms of the existing child custody order. Instead, contact law enforcement, your local department of social services, and a child abuse lawyer for help.
What Are Maryland’s Penalties for Child Abuse?
In addition to lost custody and visitation rights, a convicted child abuser faces serious criminal penalties in Maryland. These penalties include:
- First-degree child abuse:
- Up to 25 years in prison, or
- Up to 30 years in prison, if the crime caused the child’s death.
- Second-degree child abuse: up to 15 years in prison.
If you press criminal charges against the abuser, a Baltimore prosecutor will handle the criminal case.
And, if you have been arrested for child abuse, it is important that you understand your legal rights. While child abuse is an extraordinarily serious crime, there are times when innocent people are charged with child abuse. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you defend yourself and minimize the impact of false abuse charges.
Consult with a Child Abuse Lawyer in Baltimore, MD
If you need a child abuse lawyer, the team at James E. Crawford & Associates is here to help. We use our experience handling both family law and criminal matters to advocate for and educate our clients. Contact us for a confidential assessment today at 443-701-4322.