Being accused of neglecting or harming your children is any parent's worst nightmare. Unfortunately, these accusations occur far too often, including many accusations that are false and unfounded. In New Jersey, anyone can contact the Department of Children's Services (DCS) and anonymously make an allegation of child abuse. That anonymity makes it easy for the person making the report to do so without any repercussions. As a result, false accusations can start flying when an ex has a grudge or when a couple is going through a divorce, and one parent wants to hurt the other or to ensure that they get sole custody.
It Can Happen to You
A woman named Ruby experienced this when she came home to find a business card from DCS in her mailbox. When she contacted DCS, she was informed that an allegation of abuse had been made against her, but they wouldn't tell her who was behind the allegation. All they would say was that someone had claimed she'd been using a white powdery substance in front of her kids – a claim she vehemently denies.
How Common Are False Accusations of Child Abuse?
Across the country, about 1 in every 20 kids' family lives will be investigated every year. By the time a kid reaches age 18, 1 in 3 will have been involved in a DCS investigation. An overwhelming 80% of these cases are determined to be unfounded, but by that point, a significant amount of damage has already been done. Allegations of a parent's drug use are common, as are claims of abuse and abandonment.
What Are the Impacts of False Accusations of Child Abuse?
The worst possible outcome is that your children could be temporarily or permanently removed from your home. Even if you're cleared of the allegations, the investigation process will be hard on your family. Your kids may be questioned, which is a scary experience for them. You may feel like you have to parent perfectly and keep your house in perfect order at all times in case a social worker shows up at your door. It can be embarrassing for your employer, family, and friends to find out.
If allegations are determined to be true, you may have to attend parenting classes or psychiatric evaluations. Your future career choices can be limited, and you could lose the right to volunteer at your child's school or with their sports teams. Worst of all, you could temporarily or permanently lose custody of your children.
What Should I Do if I'm Falsely Accused of Child Abuse?
If, heaven forbid, you are accused of child abuse, it is essential that you get Attorney Joseph D. Lento on your side to guide you through this process and protect you. Call the Criminal Defense Team right away so that we can protect you and your family.