Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C.

Joliet Office

815-666-1285

Plainfield Office

815-733-5350

Joliet, IL child abuse defense lawyer

The state of Illinois has a low tolerance for child abuse. Even actions that may seem like reasonable forms of discipline could result in child battery or domestic violence charges if they are misinterpreted. These accusations can be devastating to the parent who is being accused, especially if the family is split. In these cases, the allocation of parental responsibilities can be altered so that the child does not see the alleged abuser again. For those who are wrongly accused, they could lose precious time with their young ones. This is why a thorough investigation by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is important when defending against such charges.

Understanding Child Abuse Allegations

Illinois law classifies child abuse as an “aggravated battery of a minor.” This charge is defined legally as any person over 18 years of age causing bodily harm and/or permanent disfigurement to any minor under 13 years of age or someone who is severely mentally impaired.

The sentence for the crime depends on the severity of the abuse. The most severe conviction is a Class X felony, which is punishable by six to 30 years in prison, and even then, a person can have the conviction elevated depending on circumstances such as:

  • 15 years in prison shall be added to the abuser’s sentence if he or she was in possession of a firearm when the abuse took place.

  • 20 years in prison shall be added to the abuser’s sentence if a firearm was discharged during an act of abuse.

  • 25 years or until the end of natural life shall be added to the abuser’s sentence if--during an act of abuse--a firearm was discharged, leaving a victim permanently disabled, disfigured, or dead.

Adults who either witness the abuse of a child or see signs of abuse (i.e., bruises, cuts, etc.) are required to report their findings to DCFS, who will then investigate the allegation. There are some people who are “mandated reporters,” which means they will be breaking the law if a child tells them about abuse and they do nothing. This is a long list in Illinois, which includes the child’s doctors, teachers, daycare workers, and clergy members.

Long bouts of child abuse can leave a young person with more than just physical scars. A child can also be mentally scarred, and he or she can develop certain disorders, such as the following:

  • Eating and/or sleeping disorders

  • Aggressive behavior

  • A decline in academic performance

  • Depression and/or anxiety

  • Alcohol or drug abuse

As for alleged abusers, they suffer as well if they are innocent. Not only will they risk losing time with their children, but their reputation in their community will also be damaged. 

Defending Against False Accusations

If DCFS finds enough evidence to take a case to court, the prosecution will have to rely on testimony from the alleged victim and any witnesses in order to convict an alleged abuser. In some cases, a younger child may be coached by an adult to say something in court to try to ensure a false conviction. This is why it is important for a defendant to have an attorney by his or her side who can look into the facts of the case and identify when certain testimony does not add up. The best defense against child abuse accusations is to make sure all evidence is examined by a trained criminal defense lawyer who can sift through fact versus fiction.

Contact a Joliet, IL Domestic Violence Lawyer

Domestic abuse of any kind is a serious matter in the state of Illinois. While it is important for children to be safe, it is also good for them to be able to spend time with each of their parents so long as actual abuse is not taking place. The lawyers of Tedone & Morton, P.C. can help defend your rights as a parent against false accusations of child abuse, ensuring that you do not miss out on any time with your children. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Will County child abuse attorneys, call our office today at 815-666-1285.

 

Sources:

https://ndaa.org/wp-content/uploads/ncpca_statues_penalties_child_assault_aug09.pdf

https://www2.illinois.gov/dcfs/safekids/protecting/Pages/dom_violence.aspx

 

Illinois defense attorney, child neglect law, Illinois criminal lawyer,The Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (“Act”) is an important but seldom referenced law that affects both criminal law and family law. Created in 1975, the potentially broad reach of this law was recently revealed in a child abuse case perpetrated by a Lake County, Illinois teacher. In this case, the teacher is accused of sexually abusing students. Though the teacher has fled the country, he was finally located in Bosnia, and is being held in custody while authorities attempt to extradite him back to the U.S. However, what has legal professionals in awe is the fact that three teachers who allegedly were told by students that the abuse was occurring are being accused of willfully and knowingly failing to report the abuse. They are being charged under the Act's requirement that teachers and other parties be considered “mandatory reporters” of acts of abuse and neglect committed against children.

The Illinois Abuse and Neglected Child Reporting Act

The Act has rarely been enforced in criminal courts, but now three Ingleside teachers are being charged for violating the Act's mandatory reporting requirement for certain professionals. Under the Act, mandated reporters include those in the fields of education, medicine, law enforcement, child care, clergy, social services, and mental health. As a result, teachers who know of any child abuse or neglect have a duty to report the acts and concerns to law enforcement. Since 1986, mandated reporters have been required to sign a statement that acknowledges their understanding of the Act. In 2013, the Act was amended to require that teachers complete mandate reporting training upon their initial employment as a teacher, and then again every five years. What has been unique about the current case is the fact that the Act is most often used to prosecute failure to report abuse in civil cases, yet the Act has rarely been used to charge teachers.

In the case at the Ingleside school, the abuse was revealed after a student reported that she had been abused by her teacher when she was under the age of 13. The accused teacher is being charged with criminal sexual assault and predatory criminal sexual assault, and there is a $1 million arrest warrant that has been issued. While two of the teachers turned themselves in to law enforcement, the third teacher remains at large. The state's attorney has stated that the most serious charge that will be imposed on the teachers who did not report will be a Class A misdemeanor. None of the teachers are currently employed by the school district. The charges against the non-reporting teachers were authorized based on interviews with the teachers, and prosecutors are now attempting to prohibit these teachers from having future contact with children.

The Act provides protections for a family's most vulnerable members, while also criminalizing the acts of those who remain silent, even when they are legally required to report child abuse and neglect. When you need legal representation in a family law or criminal law dispute you should contact the experienced  Joliet family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton, P.C.
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