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How Can I Defend Against Child Abuse Accusations in Illinois?

 Posted on September 24, 2019 in Child Abuse

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.




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