When threatened with allegations of child abuse in New Jersey, you know the potential consequences can be significant, but you may not know where to turn for answers. Our attorneys represent individuals who are accused of child abuse, counsel them about their rights and the penalties they may face, and represent them in criminal proceedings. Whether someone has informally accused you of child abuse or contacted government authorities with allegations of child abuse against you, you likely have numerous questions. Below are answers to some of the most common questions asked by people accused of child abuse in New Jersey.
Do Police or DCPP Investigate Child Abuse in NJ?
Both police and the Department of Child Protection and Permanency, DCPP (formerly known as Department of Family and Youth Services), may investigate allegations of child abuse in New Jersey.
Typically, DCPP will become involved when they receive a call of allegations either from the victim, another member of the household, a teacher or caretaker, a mandatory reporter, or anyone else who reports alleged child abuse. The names of those who report abuse to DCPP are kept confidential. A DCPP investigation may involve investigators interviewing your child, your child’s teachers, your child’s pediatrician, and even other children at your child’s school.
While the police are not always involved in child abuse investigations, if DCPP determines that child abuse or neglect has occurred, they are required to report it to authorities, which will prompt a police investigation. In cases that involve criminal charges, the police and DCPP investigators will coordinate their efforts to try to limit the number of interviews the child must undergo.
Will I Be Arrested for Child Abuse in New Jersey?
The police will investigate the allegations and place you under arrest if they have probable cause to believe that you committed a crime of child abuse. This means that after considering the totality of the information or evidence the police know, they have reasonable grounds to believe that you committed the offense. In New Jersey, child abuse is often charged as a criminal offense called endangering the welfare of a child, or child endangerment.
Charges for endangering the welfare of a child are explained in New Jersey Statute 2C:24-4, which encompasses a wide range of behavior. Specifically, to arrest you for endangering the welfare of a child, the police must have probable cause to believe that engaged in conduct that would make the child an abused or neglected child. To read some of the actions considered abuse and neglect under New Jersey law, read this page.
Will I Lose Custody of My Children?
Before taking your children away, DCPP will make reasonable efforts to keep the children in the home. However, if DCPP investigators feel that your children are in imminent danger, they are allowed to take your children away immediately without a court order. In that case, they will need to obtain an order from a judge within 2 days of taking your child into protective custody.
As for endangering the welfare of a child charges, a conviction does not trigger an immediate loss of child custody. However, it is the court’s responsibility to evaluate the circumstances in your case and determine the appropriate sentence. For example, you may be required to seek mental health counseling, undergo a psychological evaluation, or take anger management courses in order to maintain custody of your child. In other cases, supervised visitation, drug testing, or home visits are required for a given period.
Accused of Child Abuse in Union County, NJ?
If allegations of child abuse have been made against you, you are entitled to legal representation in criminal proceedings and custody determinations in New Jersey. The lawyers at our firm will defend your innocence against child abuse accusations and fight tirelessly to preserve your family unit. With offices in Cranford, we defend individuals facing criminal charges for endangering the welfare of a child and domestic violence offenses throughout Union County, NJ. If you have a child abuse case in Elizabeth, Linden, Clark, Roselle, Rahway, Summit, Mountainside, or nearby areas, contact us anytime for a free consultation at (908) 838-0150.