False Allegations of Child Abuse
Child abuse, like all forms of domestic violence, is horrifying. Understandably, as a society, we have prioritized the safety of our children by instituting strict legal protections and protocols for investigating, prosecuting, and punishing perpetrators in instances of abuse.
The system of legal protections for children in the United States is imperfect, largely due to its reliance on reports of abuse from family members who witness it. Frequently, abuse occurs in the home where the only witnesses are family members. As a result, false accusations of domestic violence and abuse are relatively common.
Every day, innocent Americans find themselves embroiled in false accusations of child abuse. These lies cause emotional distress, separate children from loving parents, drain defendants’ finances in legal battles to clear their names, and ultimately, cost many innocent people their freedom.
If you or someone you know has been dishonestly accused of abuse, consider these tips for how to come out of the other end legally, financially, and emotionally whole.
False Accusations During Divorce
More than half of American marriages now end in divorces, many of which are legally messy. Spouses compete over financial resources as well as custody of any children they might have together. Unfortunately, false allegations of abuse during divorce do occur – many times as a cynical ploy to gain an advantage during litigation.
Experienced divorce attorneys are trained to handle false allegations of abuse between spouses. Enlisting the help of a competent lawyer for hotly contested divorces is highly recommended to receive the outcome that you desire.
Knowing Your Rights
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is designed to protect people suspected of crimes from incriminating themselves through forced cooperation with law enforcement, such as answering questions.
If you are approached by the police or any other representative of the government and questioned about abuse and/or arrested, it is critical that you politely refuse and contact an attorney to represent you immediately. If you choose to engage in questioning, you are jeopardizing your financial security and, potentially, your freedom.
The Challenges of Successfully Prosecuting Child Abuse Cases
As we mentioned previously, prosecuting abuse usually involves the reporting and/or testimony in a court of law by witnesses. Because of their limited cognitive development, children are often judged to be unreliable witnesses. Their memories are often susceptible to outside influence and they often do not exhibit confidence when recalling even relatively recent past events.
As a result, prosecutors are often eager to engage with family and acquaintances of the child who can corroborate any allegations of abuse.
Punishing False Accusers
People who have been falsely accused of abuse have legal remedies to receive justice.
First, filing false police reports is illegal. The challenge of successfully prosecuting cases of false police reports is that the onus is on the prosecutors to prove that the defendant knowingly and maliciously filed a false report – i.e., that they knew the allegations were false when they made them.
A second legal remedy for false accusations of abuse is to sue the perpetrator in a civil court for defamation. Slander, in legal parlance, refers to the verbal expression of false statements that cause material harm to the victim. Libel, alternatively, is defamation expressed in writing.
Depending on the circumstances, victims of false allegations can win substantial amounts of money in judgments when their cases are proven
Statute of Limitations in Utah
For many criminal offenses, a statute of limitations is a law that prevents prosecution for a crime after a specified time period. Depending on the crime specified in a false allegation of abuse, the accused may be immune to criminal action. However, the accused might still be liable for civil penalties.
Seeking Legal Help in Ogden, Utah
Child abuse is a serious crime and many people falsely accused of abuse in civil or criminal courts mistakenly assume they can handle their own legal battles. Never gamble with your financial integrity and/or freedom by attempting to represent yourself against false allegations of abuse.
If you or a loved one are in such a situation, seek support from a licensed attorney with experience in fighting false abuse allegations. Contact Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman today!