Any criminal cases involving children can be difficult. Child abuse convictions can carry severe consequences depending on the nature of the crime. For example, being found guilty of child abuse can mean lengthy prison time and losing custody of your children.
Even mere allegations can destroy trust between family and community members as well as affect employment opportunities. Unfortunately, even if allegations are completely untrue and fabricated, suspected abuse still has to be investigated to protect the child.
If you or a loved one is facing accusations of child abuse in Jacksonville, North Carolina, or the surrounding areas, don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel. At Wilkie Law Firm, Aden Wilkie is determined to get the most successful outcome for your situation. As an experienced criminal defense lawyer, he knows the severe impact criminal charges can have on your life.
Call today to schedule a confidential consultation at 910-333-9626. At this initial consultation, Aden Wilkie will go over the sensitive information in your case and advise you on the best way to move forward.
What Constitutes Child Abuse in North Carolina?
The details surrounding the alleged incident (or incidents) are vitally important in child abuse cases. North Carolina child abuse charges are based on the extent of the injury and the exact actions that resulted in the child’s injuries. In some child abuse cases, the defendant does not have to be the one who perpetrates the alleged abuse. If the defendant allows the alleged abuse to happen, the law treats them similarly. North Carolina law also includes emotional damage under the umbrella of child abuse.
Types of Child Abuse
Under North Carolina law, there are a few different types of child abuse that can be committed by parents, guardians, custodians, or caretakers. Caretakers do not include teachers or coaches, but they do include adults living in the same home as the child. The various types of child abuse are outlined below.
- Physical Abuse: Physical abuse includes any non-accidental action that results in serious physical injury or substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or impairment (N.C. Gen. Stat § 14-318.2).
- Inappropriate Behavior Modification: This is using cruel and severe punishments to change a child’s behavior. This type of abuse includes not allowing them food or sleep and physically restraining them (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-101).
- Emotional Abuse: Emotional abuse consists of acts that result in emotional or psychological damage. Verbal abuse falls under emotional abuse.
- Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse includes any sexual act committed by the parent or caretaker. This type of abuse also includes allowing another person to commit the crime.
- Contributing to Delinquency: If a parent or caretaker encourages the child to sell drugs or shoplift, they are committing child abuse by contributing to delinquency.
Is Child Abuse a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
Depending on the exact circumstances of the case, child abuse can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. Seemingly minor details can mean the difference between a lengthy prison term and a dismissal, so make sure to tell your legal team the full details of the case.
Misdemeanor Child Abuse
Some forms of child abuse may result in a Class A1 misdemeanor. This is the highest class of misdemeanors. Any physical injury to a child under 16 can result in a misdemeanor child abuse charge. This does not have to be a serious injury; any injury that causes pain falls under this charge. This abuse charge can also be pursued if the parent or caretaker left the child in a situation where there is a serious risk of physical injury.
In some situations, failing to report suspected abuse can result in a Class 1 misdemeanor. Many members of the community have a legal duty to report child abuse to social services. If someone wantonly fails to report abuse to child protective services, they are guilty of this crime.
Felony Child Abuse
North Carolina law recognizes a few different types of child abuse situations that result in a felony charge. These include:
- A Class G felony can be the result of a willful act or grossly negligent omission that shows a reckless disregard for human life. A Class G felony carries a sentence of 8 to 31 months.
- If a reckless disregard for human life results in a serious bodily injury to the child, the charge is elevated to a Class E felony. This carries a prison sentence of 15-63 months.
- A Class D felony can be pursued if the adult caretaker of the child is seriously injured. A Class D felony is also the result of sexual acts against a minor. This charge carries a prison sentence of 3-13 years.
- Serious bodily injury to a minor in your care can result in a Class B2 felony, which carries a prison sentence of between roughly 8 and 32 years. A serious bodily injury can be any serious physical injury that has a risk of death or causes permanent impairments.
If you have been accused of child abuse, don’t doubt for a second that the potential consequences are extremely serious. The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty, but they do not necessarily have to prove that an injury occurred. These charges can tear family members apart and lead to lengthy jury trials. Contact the Wilkie Law Firm today to begin the process of fighting for your freedom.
What are the Penalties for Child Abuse in NC?
As we mentioned, felony charges often have lengthy prison terms and lifetime implications. Prior criminal records can have a major impact on the outcome of the child abuse case. A prior record could mean an extended sentence and a jury that’s less likely to give you the benefit of doubt.
If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor child abuse charge, you could lose the right to see your children without supervision. If you have a prior record, a misdemeanor could mean jail time. Felony child abuse charges are much more serious.
These charges can include prison time, complete loss of parental rights, and a spot on the sex offender registry. Felony charges can carry anywhere between 8 months to 32 years, so it’s important to have a strong defense team by your side in this difficult time.
Why Do I Need an NC Child Abuse Attorney?
Child neglect and abuse charges are not to be taken lightly. Innocent people can be accused of child abuse during a custody battle or by people with cruel intentions. In addition, members of law enforcement often try everything they can to get a confession. This includes confusing you to make your story seem inconsistent. This is why you should only share confidential or sensitive information with members of your defense team.
A criminal investigation, whether it leads to a conviction or not, can turn your life inside out. If you or someone you love is facing child abuse allegations, contact a skilled Jacksonville criminal defense attorney like Aden Wilkie right away. When you obtain his legal services, Aden will fight hard against your charges to potentially get them lessened or even dismissed.
As an attorney with extensive knowledge of North Carolina law, he can also work with the district attorney’s office to explore a plea bargain. Sometimes plea bargains are the best way to keep you out of prison. No matter if you are innocent or guilty, after being accused of child abuse, your best choice would be to contact the Wilkie Law Firm as soon as possible.
Jacksonville Child Abuse Defense Lawyer
A child abuse charge is a serious legal matter that requires careful handling. Allegations alone can be life-changing and threaten your reputation in the community. It’s important to find a defense attorney that can fight for your rights inside and outside of the courtroom.
Fortunately, Aden Wilkie has extensive experience handling North Carolina domestic crimes, including domestic violence, stalking and harassment, protective order violations, and child abuse. To begin your attorney-client relationship today, schedule a consultation by calling 910-333-9626 or reaching out via our online intake form. The Wilkie Law Firm is ready to fight for you.