Los Angeles Child Abuse Defense Attorney 

Los Angeles Child Abuse Defense Attorney Have you been charged with child abuse in Los Angeles, CA? It is critically important that you contact an experienced Los Angeles child abuse defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Like child neglect, being accused of child abuse can come as a complete shock. If allegations are blatantly false, it may seem completely unfair to have to devote money and energy to defending yourself.

However, much is at stake, and it is necessary to take steps to protect yourself.

Talking to an attorney right away can help you understand your rights and options to defend yourself, and come up with a defense plan. Call the Los Angeles child abuse attorneys at the Rodriguez Law Group today to discuss your options.

How a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Fight Child Abuse Charges

Handcuffed by a policemanChild abuse cases can be difficult and very draining. The defense strategy you build with your lawyer will vary based on the events of your specific case. In some cases, a lawyer can help you avoid charges altogether if you know that an investigation is underway. Your choice of attorney matters when you’re facing allegations of child abuse.

Having an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer like Ambrosio Rodriguez in your corner can make a world of difference in how your case is resolved. Before becoming a defense attorney, Mr. Rodriguez spent 13+ years working as a prosecutor for the state of California. His in-depth knowledge of the state’s criminal justice system – and how the other side works – can be a huge asset to you when your future is on the line.

When you hire the Rodriguez Law Group, you can expect us to:

  • Provide understanding and compassionate legal representation
  • Coordinate an exhaustive investigation into the allegations against you
  • Work closely with experts as we analyze evidence and devise a defense strategy
  • Handle all conversations with the police and prosecuting attorney
  • Work to get evidence tossed, the charges dismissed, or negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf
  • Litigate your case before a jury of your peers, if necessary

Contact our law office in Los Angeles, California to get started with a free consultation. Time is of the essence, so call now.

IS DCFS Involved in Your Los Angeles Child Abuse Case?

Have you received a voicemail from a social worker, or found a business card at your door? If you know that Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or Child Protective Services is (CPS) investigating you, it is possible to immediately begin defending you and avoid child abuse charges and subsequent removal of your children from your custody.

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has been the subject of much criticism over the years. Pre-COVID times, the agency received about 800 to 1,000 calls a day.

During quarantine and school shutdowns (when many mandated reporters were not seeing children regularly), those numbers dropped to about 400 calls a day. Even at lower numbers, investigators are overwhelmed with the number of cases to investigate. This can mean they do not have time to give each case a fair investigation, or may rush to a conclusion.

Normally, when police want to question you about a crime, refusing to answer all questions is the recommended approach. However, social workers’ roles are different from police. When children are involved, refusing contact may not be the best route.

Talking to a lawyer as soon as possible can possibly stop an investigation before it gets to the point of arrest or criminal charges.

Penal Code 273(d) – Child Abuse

California’s child abuse statute is Penal Code 273d PC– also referred to as “corporal injury on a child.” This statute makes it illegal to impose injury or cruel punishment on a child.

Child abuse, like many crimes, is a “wobbler” offense that can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor.

What Constitutes Child Abuse?

A child is any person under the age of 18 years. Acts that may be considered abusive in California include:

  • Hitting
  • Burning
  • Choking
  • Kicking
  • Punching
  • Pushing
  • Shaking
  • Slapping
  • Picking up and throwing a child or throwing something at a child.

Spanking is generally not considered child abuse in California, unless it is excessive. Any act that is considered “cruel or inhuman” may be considered abuse, as long as it was willfully inflicted and it resulted in a traumatic physical condition to the child.

In California, a traumatic physical condition is defined as “a wound or other bodily injury, whether minor or serious, caused by the direct application of physical force.”

Courts have a lot of discretion in deciding if an act that causes minor injury is “abusive.”

Penalties for Child Abuse in California

A repeat offender of child abuse is much more likely than a first-time offender to be given felony charges. Consequences for child abuse in California include:

Misdemeanor: A misdemeanor charge of child neglect may be punishable by:

  • Up to 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail
  • Probation w/ requirement to attend counseling, child abuse, or parenting classes
  • Significant community service
  • Up to $6,000 in fines.

Felony: A felony charge of child neglect may be punishable by:

  • Up to six years in state prison (minimum two years)
  • Probation w/ requirement to attend counseling, child abuse, or parenting classes
  • Significant community service
  • Up to $6,000 in fines.

Probation may also include random drug testing and requirement to attend AA or NA meetings (if drugs or alcohol were involved). If you had a prior child abuse conviction within a 10 year loopback period, a four-year sentence enhancement would apply (even to minimum punishment).

The court may also order a protective order prohibiting you from having any contact with the victim.

California’s Mandated Reporting Laws

In California, certain professions are mandated reporters, meaning they are required to report any suspected abuse or neglect. Mandated reporters in California include:

  • Teachers and school administrators/personnel
  • Employees of licensed community care or child day facility
  • Doctors, nurses, and EMTs
  • Psychologists
  • Police and firefighters,
  • Priest, minister, rabbi, religious practitioner, or similar functionary of a church
  • Social workers.

Mandated reporters who fail to make a required report may be convicted of California Penal Code 11166(b), a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or up-to a $1000 fine, or both.

Reports must be made over the phone and followed up in writing to law enforcement, or a County Welfare Department/County Child Protective Services. While the primary intent of the reporting law is to protect the child, sometimes observations are mistaken.

Children, especially young children, rarely lie about being abused. However, they may use the wrong words to describe events, or unintentionally describe things which may suggest red flags.

For example, if a child told a teacher that their older sibling was doing something mean to them, or their grandpa told them to keep a secret, these indications could suggest something inappropriate, which could be enough for a mandated reporter to make a phone and written report.

Defenses to Child Abuse Allegations in California

The most common defenses to child abuse charges in California are:

  • You were lawfully disciplining your child: The discipline was reasonable and caused no harm.
  • The injury was caused by accident: According to the jury instructions for child abuse in California, a person commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. If you were practicing your golf swing and did not realize a child entered the path of your club, accidentally striking your child would not be “willful.” Or if a toddler accidentally tumbled down the stairs and injured themselves, you would not be found to have willfully caused their injuries.
  • The allegations are false: Either deliberately alleged to retaliate against someone or mistakenly observed by a mandated reporter. In some cases, young children have been coached to use the wrong word/description to tell a daycare provider what happened.

Sadly, false allegations of domestic violence – including acts of child abuse –  are quite common in California.

False Accusations of Child Abuse

Child abuse is taken very seriously in California, as it should be. Children must be protected from violence, abuse, and neglect. However, the focus on children’s well-being above all else creates a dangerous consequence for those falsely accused.

Reports of child abuse, even if unfounded, can destroy someone’s reputation and future and prevent them from working in many occupations. Overwhelmed and overworked investigators may not properly or thoroughly investigate allegations.

As a result, people falsely accused of abuse must devote a great deal of time, effort, and resources to defeating claims and defending their name.

Reasons Why People Make False Accusations of Child Abuse

Allegations of child abuse may be either mistaken or intentional:

  • Mistaken identity
  • Mistaken witnessing
  • Retaliation
  • Protecting someone else
  • Hiding one’s own transgressions
  • Attempting to get sole custody.

If you are falsely accused of child abuse, a California criminal law attorney who specializes in child abuse defense can help you protect your name and future.

What Offenses are Related to Child Abuse?

Offenses related to child abuse in California include:

At the Rodriguez Law Group, have an outstanding track record with child abuse cases and related offenses. As a former prosecutor, founder Ambrosio Rodriguez understands how these cases are built by prosecutors, and how mandated reporters and social workers shape a case. It is so important to not waste any time contacting a lawyer if you are being investigated or facing charges.

Child Abuse Central Index (CACI)

If you are investigated by DCFS, you may also be placed on California’s Child Abuse Central Index (CACI), which is a list of suspected child abusers. Your county welfare agency will notify you if your name is placed on CACI. You may request a grievance hearing to fight to keep your name off this list – but you only have 30 days to do this.

In some ways, a CACI Grievance Hearing is similar to a DMV hearing following a DUI arrest: There is no judge or jury – it is you against the government. This makes your chances of winning slim, especially if you’re representing yourself.

Although you can represent yourself, it is highly recommended to have a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney. If you are successful in your hearing, the county must request that your name is removed from the index.

Although the CACI list is not available to the general public, it is made available by third parties for investigation and employment background check purposes. If you are placed on CACI, you may never be able to:

  • Work or volunteer around children
  • Adopt a child
  • Become a foster parent
  • Operate a daycare at your home (and your spouse will never be able to run a daycare out of your home)
  • Work at a school or daycare
  • Obtain security clearance.

If someone listed you in their will as a dedicated guardian for their children, being on the CACI may prevent you from following through with these wishes. If you are notified your name is being submitted to CACI, contact a lawyer immediately.

Schedule a Consultation with a Los Angeles Child Abuse Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been charged in Los Angeles, don’t hesitate to contact the Rodriguez Law Group for immediate assistance with your defense. Our Los Angeles child abuse lawyers can help you fight to protect your legal rights, along with your reputation, your future, and your family.   To speak with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer about child abuse charges, contact our law office directly at 213-204-4977.