What Is Child Abuse?
A child abuse charge involves an act or failure to act that causes harm to a child. US Congress specifically defined and categorized child abuse under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). CAPTA was passed in 1974 to recognize that child abuse and neglect occur and to apportion federal funds and other aid to combat it. CAPTA defines child abuse as:
- Any recent act or failure to act by a parent or caretaker towards a minor that results in death, serious physical harm, serious emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation
- Any act or failure to act that creates a risk of imminent harm to a minor
Only parents and caretakers can face federal child abuse criminal charges. A minor under the federal definition is a child under the age of 18 years who has not been emancipated. If you are facing federal criminal charges, then make sure that you speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Federal Child Abuse Charges?
Most child abuse cases are litigated at the state level and are not charged as federal crimes. There are situations where federal charges can be filed where the abuse of a child involves sexual assault or trafficking. Federal crimes involving sexual abuse of children include:
- 18 USC 2241 – Aggravated sexual abuse
- 18 USC 2242 – Sexual abuse
- 18 USC 2243 – Sexual abuse of a minor or ward
- 18 USC 2244 – Abusive sexual contact
The sentence upon conviction can be severe. If you are convicted of aggravated sexual abuse, then it can result in a life sentence or any term of years in federal prison. If you are convicted of sexual abuse of a minor or ward, then you can face up to 15 years in federal prison. A conviction can also result in fines, probation, and other punishments as deemed appropriate by a judge.
What Are the Types of Child Abuse?
There are four main types of child abuse as recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO); they are physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. Specific examples of child abuse include:
- Child trafficking
- Child labor
- Forced adoption
- Child marriage
- Female genital mutilation
There are many activities that are considered child abuse under state and federal law. This includes failing to take care of a child properly or putting a child in a dangerous situation. If the activity takes place in a special jurisdiction or a federal facility, then the federal government can get involved with federal law enforcement and federal charges. If the activity does not meet federal requirements, then the state where the alleged child abusive activity took place can prosecute the case.
What Are Some Examples of Defenses to Child Abuse?
If you are facing criminal allegations of child abuse, then a few different defenses might be available to you. Usual examples of defenses to child abuse include:
- The child is making false accusations
- The injuries that the minor experienced were because of an accident
- The injuries that the minor experienced were due to an activity that was not child abuse, such as participating in sports
- The right of a parent or caretaker to discipline their children
- The court does not have jurisdiction
One of these defenses might apply to your situation if you are currently facing federal child abuse charges. Each case has its own specific set of facts and circumstances, so make sure that your case is professionally assessed by an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to determine your best defenses before you make any decisions.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
All federal criminal cases are tried in United States District Courts across the Country. There is one United States District Court in New Jersey. If you have a federal criminal case in New Jersey, then it will be heard in a courthouse in the New Jersey District Court.
If you lose your case in New Jersey federal district court, then you can appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. This is the highest court that you can appeal to, except for the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will only hear a case if they choose to. There is no guarantee that you will be able to have your case heard by the Supreme Court. An experienced attorney can help you understand the court process and what you need to do in order to defend your case.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are charged with a crime, then it is important to have an experienced lawyer. A lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and examine the evidence that the prosecution has. This information is important so you can construct your defense. If you have a good lawyer, they can also help you decide if it is best to take the case to trial or work out a resolution. If you want to make a deal, your lawyer will be able to negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf and give their opinion on whether taking the deal is a good idea or not.
Make sure you fully understand your case and its possibilities before you make any decisions. If you have legal questions, then contact us at the Lento Law Firm.
Why Hiring Lento Law Is the Right Choice
If you are being investigated or prosecuted federally for child abuse, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney immediately. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people defend countless criminal charges in several jurisdictions. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring Lento Law is the right choice to help defend your federal case.