People who are accused of child neglect or abuse in North Carolina immediately find themselves in incredibly stressful situations. In addition to potentially severe criminal penalties, these alleged offenders also face a social stigma that can simply feel insurmountable.
Cases of child abuse or neglect are handled by multiple agencies, leading to additional confusion for people who are uncertain of what their rights. It is not uncommon for alleged offenders to find themselves in these situations because of false allegations that were made during contentious divorce or child custody disputes.
Raleigh Child Abuse Lawyer
If you believe that you are under investigation for or have already been charged with child neglect or abuse in North Carolina, you should not waste any time in seeking legal counsel. Your case will be subject to civil and criminal investigations, but Coolidge Law Firm can help make sure that your rights are not violated when either one is being carried out.
Our Wake County child abuse attorneys aggressively defend clients facing these types of charges throughout the Raleigh area, including such communities as Cary, Wendell, Holly Springs, Morrisville, Wake Forest, Garner, Apex, Knightdale, and Fuquay-Varina. You can have our firm provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (919) 239-8448 to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.
Wake County Child Abuse Information Center
- How does state law define abuse or neglect?
- What happens when a person is being investigated by the Department of Social Services?
- What are some of the concerns about criminal investigations conducted by police?
Under North Carolina General Statute § 7B-301, certain parties have a legal duty to report suspected abuse, neglect, dependency, or death of a child due to maltreatment. Any person or institution who knowingly or wantonly fails to report these types of cases or knowingly or wantonly prevents another person from making a report can be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, and a director of social services who receives a report of sexual abuse of a juvenile in a child care facility and knowingly fails to notify the State Bureau of Investigation of the report can also be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
An abused juvenile is defined in North Carolina General Statute § 7B-101(1) as being any juvenile less than 18 years of age whose parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker:
- Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the juvenile a serious physical injury by other than accidental means
- Creates or allows to be created a substantial risk of serious physical injury to the juvenile by other than accidental means
- Uses or allows to be used upon the juvenile cruel or grossly inappropriate procedures or cruel or grossly inappropriate devices to modify behavior
- Commits, permits, or encourages the commission of first-degree rape, rape of a child by an adult offender, second degree rape, first-degree sexual offense, sexual offense with a child by an adult offender, second degree sexual offense, sexual act by a custodian, unlawful sale, surrender, or purchase of a minor, crime against nature, incest, preparation of obscene photographs, slides, or motion pictures of the juvenile, employing or permitting the juvenile to assist in a violation of the obscenity laws, dissemination of obscene material to the juvenile, displaying or disseminating material harmful to the juvenile, first and second degree sexual exploitation of the juvenile, promoting the prostitution of the juvenile, or taking indecent liberties with the juvenile or upon the juvenile
- Creates or allows to be created serious emotional damage to the juvenile
- Encourages, directs, or approves of delinquent acts involving moral turpitude committed by the juvenile
- Commits or allows human trafficking, involuntary servitude, or sexual servitude to be committed against the child
When any person suspects a child has been neglected or abused, the reports are typically reviewed by the Wake County Department of Social Services (DSS). The report triggers an investigation by Child Protective Services (CPS), and a social worker from CPS will usually be sent to visit the child’s home and assess whether that child has been the victim of any neglect or abuse.
The primary goal of CPS is to ensure the safety of the child. If the social worker believes that the child’s safety merits a private conversation, then the worker reserves the right to talk to the child without the parent’s permission. Some of the other parties that a social worker may speak to can include, but are not limited to:
- Family Members
If this investigation determines that a child is being abused, then the DSS director will submit a report of the findings to the district attorney’s office for a possible criminal investigation by law enforcement.
Unlike civil investigations of child neglect or abuse by DSS or CPS, the goal of criminal investigations conducted by police is to gather evidence that will lead to the prosecution of the alleged offender. In addition to taking photographs or obtaining other physical evidence from alleged crime scenes, one major issue with criminal investigations in these cases are the interviews of alleged victims and alleged offenders conducted by officers.
In these cases, police officers who lack proper training can make any number of errors during their interviews of children that produce misleading or inaccurate statements. Some of these issues include:
- Officers may use the alleged statements of friends or other family members to get children to make their own answers align with the ones supposedly provided by the people they know.
- Police may ask the same question several times in order to obtain a desired answer, as children will believe they are not answering the question correctly if it is repeated.
- Officers may ask vague and suggestive questions about “touching” or certain body parts that the interviewer believes is evidence of sexual abuse while the child never implied contact was inappropriate.
- Police may elicit false confessions from children by deliberately portraying alleged offenders in negative ways or incorporating the biases or points of views of the officers.
- Officers may reinforce false allegations by rewarding or praising children for making any confessions. They can also evoke misleading responses by questioning the honesty of children when they do not make any incriminating statements.
- Police may ask children to speculate, pretend, or imagine what happened during certain lines of questioning.
It is not just children who are susceptible to errors in interviews with law enforcement. Alleged offenders who are convinced that they are innocent and have nothing to hide sometimes make statements, give police permission to perform unwarranted searches, and agree to polygraph tests.
Find the Best Child Abuse Lawyer in Raleigh
Are you being investigated for or have you been charged with child neglect or abuse in North Carolina? Coolidge Law Firm understands the serious nature of these types of crimes, and our firm will fight to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case. Do NOT talk with the authorities without appropriate legal counsel.
We represent clients throughout the greater Raleigh area, including college students at North Carolina State University, Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), William Peace University, Meredith College, Wake Technical Community College (Wake Tech), and Shaw University. Call (919) 239-8448 today to schedule a free consultation that will let use review your case.