Allegations of child abuse are a serious matter. Even if you know you have done nothing wrong, you cannot ignore the allegations against you, especially if someone has filed charges, or if the state has begun legal proceedings or investigations.
If you have been accused of allegedly abusing a child, your own or someone else’s, you must take swift action to protect your rights. Here are the steps you should take right away.
- Understand the Allegations Against You
The first thing you should do is get a good understanding of the allegations against you. This will help you get a good grasp on the seriousness of charges you may face.
Has someone simply made an allegation of child abuse? Have you been contacted by the authorities? Even mere allegations are serious and you should not ignore them. By understanding what stage the allegations are in, you can better prepare.
2. Speak with Friends and Family Who can Support Your Character
You will need witnesses to speak to your good character. You will need them to say that they have never seen you experience any poor behavior around children and that, to the best of their knowledge, any allegations of child abuse made against you must be false.
Make a list of your close friends and family. Include their full names, addresses, and phone numbers. Your legal team will need to speak with them at length about your character and how they can help you get out of this legal situation.
3. Do Not Assume the Police Are on Your Side
If you are contacted by the police about the child abuse allegations, you must assume that the police are not on your side. You must remain calm around police. While you are angry, understandably so, do your best to keep a calm demeanor. Losing your temper could be used as evidence against you to show that you are quick to anger.
4. Get Your Finances in Order
Many people who know they are innocent do not consider just how much it might cost to prove their innocence. While this seems unfair, and it is, you need to prepare for your defense fund.
Child abuse cases can be extremely expensive to prosecute and to defend. You may need to have expert witnesses testify about your psychological history. Your case may also require extensive discovery, something that requires a great deal of time to prepare and review.
Many child abuse allegations end up in court, even when the allegations are false. Sometimes, the person or people making the allegations against you are determined and that can lead to extra expenses for you to defend and protect your rights.
5. Keep Records and Details
If someone alleges that you abused a child on July 1, but you were in a different city, collect evidence to prove you were out of town. Keep hotel records, gas receipts, credit card statements, anything that will help prove you could not have committed this crime.
Also keep a written journal and timeline. When you understand the allegations against you, you can detail that you could not have committed the crime because you were out of town, or at work, or lived too far away, or for any other reason. Provide as much detail as possible, recounting every step you took on the day in question.
While the person making the allegations against you could claim you are simply lying, having this detail also provides your legal team with guidance on where to look for more evidence to prove your innocence. The more information you can recall, the better.
6. Hire a Lawyer and Remain Silent
If you are contacted by the police, social services, or if you have been arrested, do not answer any questions about the child abuse allegations. When people are innocent, they have a tendency to think they can speak freely. Unfortunately, the police and social services may take your words and assume you are lying.
When you are questioned by the police, they must first read you your Miranda rights. These are rights you have that the police must inform you of before they can ask you questions. If they did not read you the Miranda rights before questioning, your lawyer may be able to have any answers you provided thrown out.
One of the rights provided in Miranda is the right to a lawyer. You can make that right at any time and it does not have to be demanded immediately after hearing the right. Using this right to request a lawyer is one of the most important decisions you will make.
A lawyer skilled in child abuse allegation defense will be able to step in and make sure the police do not ask you any further questions. They will also begin speaking with the witnesses you provide to them, looking to build a case that shows you as a good member of the community and not someone who abuses children. The sooner you speak with an attorney, the sooner you can have a legal advocate on your side, fighting to protect your rights and defend you against the child abuse allegations you face.
The South Jersey DYFS Lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Protect Your Rights
While the above steps can help protect your rights, you may need the support and guidance of a trusted legal professional. A lawyer experienced in false allegations of child abuse can help you fight the legal issues you face and work diligently to protect your rights. To help guide you through the complex legal process, speak with our South Jersey DYFS lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker. Contact us today at 856-210-9776 or fill out our online form to schedule your consultation with our experienced legal team. With offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we proudly serve our neighbors in Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Voorhees, and South Jersey.