There is no question that intentionally neglecting or causing harm to a child is an alarming crime, and it’s one that both the public and the criminal justice system take very seriously. Just the allegations or accusations of abuse or neglect is enough to ruin a reputation, while a conviction can lead to long prison times and other harsh penalties, as well as a criminal record that will be with you for the rest of your life.
If you’ve been accused of neglecting or harming a child, whether as a parent or caregiver, you can’t fight these allegations or charges alone. You need an aggressive, experienced child abuse attorney in Raleigh who will fight on your behalf, even in emotionally charged or challenging cases.
At Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, we are a client-focused criminal defense law firm with over 50 years of combined experience – much of that as prosecuting attorneys. Our blend of experience and comprehensive knowledge of North Carolina child abuse laws allows us to provide more personal representation and smart legal strategy.
North Carolina Child Abuse Laws
In North Carolina, a person can be charged with child abuse based on the following alleged behaviors against a child less than 16 years old:
- Physical Abuse – Intentionally causing physical injury to a child, or allowing another to do so. This includes hitting, kicking, shaking, or pinching.
- Emotional Abuse – Includes abusive language, cruelty, abusive attempts at behavior modification. This includes name-calling, taunting, or forced isolation.
- Sexual Abuse and Exploitation – This includes sex crimes such as rape and inappropriate touching, exposing a child to inappropriate materials, or trafficking a child.
- Neglect – Intentionally failing to properly supervise a child or provide them with appropriate clothing, nutrition, or medical attention.
- Child Endangerment – Behaving in such a way that causes harm or puts a child at risk for harm, such as committing a crime in front of a child or driving while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle.
Misdemeanor Child Abuse in North Carolina
According to the North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S. 14-318.2), a parent or caregiver who causes physical injury, puts a child at risk for physical injury, or allows someone else to cause injury to a child may be found guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor. A Class A1 carries the most severe penalties of the misdemeanor classes, with up to 150 days in jail and a discretionary fine.
Felony Child Abuse in North Carolina
Depending on the allegations of the crime, you may need a child abuse attorney in Raleigh to defend you against felony charges. According to the N.C.G.S. 14-318.4, a parent or caregiver may be charged with:
- Class B2 Felony – A parent or caregiver who is found guilty of intentionally harming or assaulting a child, causing them to sustain serious bodily injury, including substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, extreme pain, or impairment of mental or emotional function, will be punished as a Class B felon. This charge is punishable by 94 to 484 months in prison.
- Class D Felony – If the accused is charged with causing serious physical injury (injury that causes great pain, including mental trauma), committing a sexual act, or engaging in prostitution against a minor, they may be found guilty of a Class D Felony and given a prison sentence between 38 and 204 months.
- Class E Felony – If the accused is charged with abuse stemming from a “willful act or grossly negligent omission in the care of the child,” and the child sustains serious bodily injury (including disfigurement, coma, extreme pain, or permanent or chronic impairment or pain) because of that action, they may be found guilty of a Class E Felony. This carries a penalty between 15 and 88 months in prison.
- Class G Felony – Similar to the charges above, only the child sustains a physical injury, but not serious bodily injury. A Class G Felony is punishable by 8 to 47 months in prison.
In addition to jail or prison sentences, additional penalties to being found guilty of child abuse, either misdemeanor or felony, include:
- Having to register on the North Carolina State Sex Offender Registry
- Loss of custody or visitation rights of your children
What to do If You’ve Been Accused of Child Abuse
If you are being investigated or have been accused of abusing or neglecting a child, you need to act quickly and hire a child abuse attorney in Raleigh to help you. What may seem like a simple misunderstanding or a mistake that can easily be explained can turn into serious criminal charges quickly. You can’t face these charges alone.
Having an experienced, aggressive defense attorney by your side to provide skillful representation is necessary to have the best possible outcome for your case. At Sandman, Finn, & Fitzhugh, we know how serious child abuse allegations and charges are and will work tirelessly to investigate your case and create a defense strategy.
Contact Our Child Abuse Attorneys in Raleigh Today
To learn about how our attorneys can help, schedule a free consultation with our criminal defense law firm today! Call us today at (919) 887-8040 or fill out the form below to request your free consultation.